At the Crossroads of Long-Term Recovery: Joplin, Missouri Six Months after the May 22, 2011 Tornado

In December 2011, researchers from Columbia University’s National Center for Disaster Preparedness (NCDP) interviewed key officials and community leaders in Joplin, Missouri in order to document the major themes of the recovery effort approximately six months after the May 22 tornado. Researchers interviewed individuals in Joplin, Missouri to document recovery efforts six months after the tornado that displaced one third of the city’s population. They observed a favorable foundation for recovery, including limited physical damage to critical infrastructure or the city government’s fiscal base, minimal political conflict over the direction and control of recovery, a history of prior collaborative efforts across diverse sectors, and a highly involved and visible governor. The study documents several quick critical decisions that set a positive recovery trajectory and a FEMA-supported long-term recovery planning process. It notes that six months after the tornado, Joplin’s leadership faced hard decisions about how to apply federal and state redevelopment support and private philanthropic donations, deal with long-term community mental health issues, maintain a high level of citizen involvement, and sustain the cooperative atmosphere that had defined the first six months of recovery.

Natural Disaster
Disaster Recovery