Posted by: Beth Freeman, Regional Administrator, FEMA Region VII
Today’s Day of Unity, including the walk and other celebratory events, emphasizes the true human spirit and compassion within the people of the greater Joplin area. At the start of the walk, over 5,000 people from all sectors of the community, including faith-based and non-profit organizations, local, state and federal partners, gathered to recognize the work and significant recovery efforts accomplished by the communities of Joplin and Duquesne in just 365 days.
At 20th Street, for example, as we passed the former Commerce Bank, my heart swelled as I looked behind me to see thousands of people marching forward in support of everything Joplin has encountered and is preparing for in the months and years ahead.
At the site of the former Joplin High School, hundreds were present, embracing the plan and sharing a vision for a new and expanded institution of education. As ground was broken for the new High School and Franklin Technology Center, I couldn’t help but think back to last August 17 when the school district delivered on its promise to open schools on time, helping families to take another step on their journey toward normalcy.
As we continued our walk down the 3.7 mile path of the EF-5 tornado, I was reminded of the importance of involving the whole community - in the immediate aftermath of disasters and after the spotlight has dimmed. The thousands of people who walked together today represent the power of the human spirit, persevering together and supporting one another through the long and sometimes arduous months of recovery. FEMA, like many of the organizations represented here today, remains committed to being here for the long term, until the work is done.
And as they say here, "Go Joplin Eagles (KAW, KAW)!