JOPLIN, Mo. (KMOX) — The scenes of devastation in Moore, Oklahoma are causing flashbacks for some Joplin residents who paused Wednesday to remember the deadly EF-5 tornado that hit two years ago.
161 people were killed on May 22, 2011, with thousands more injured or left homeless.
Joplin Emergency Management Director Keith Stammer says the rebuilding continues today with more than 85-percent of leveled properties permitted, meaning a lot of people stayed in Joplin despite the devastation.
But that’s good news for city officials who were dealt an interesting hand.
“You don’t often get a chance as a city to think about a third of your city suddenly needing to be redone,” said Stammer.
“We went to the citizens and said, ‘What do you want to do here? Do you want to see churches, schools, running trails, grocery stores, residential areas, low-cost housing. What’s your vision for this?'”
Stammer adds they’ve since upgraded to “dual polarization” radar technology to give Joplin residents more time to prepare for any approaching tornadoes.
Every detail of that terrible Sunday afternoon has been etched into the memory of Keith Stammer, Emergency Management Director for the city of Joplin. Stammer said that day seemed like a fairly normal weather day, “and after five o’clock things pretty much started to go south.”
Stammer added, “honestly there was no real indication that this was any kind of a monster tornado that it turned out to be.”
Stammer said they had two storms combine on the west side of Joplin, and in sixty seconds a tornado formed.
Now two years later he’s still sensitive to questions about why so many people were killed and injured.
“People have asked me why did you had some many dead, so many injured, but consider again there are 17,000 people that lived in that area, and with all do is respect to the families of the deceased and those who were hurt, we still only had 161 deaths.”
In addition — 12-hundred injured, 75-hundred buildings damaged or destroyed, and thousands left without a place to live.
Two years later the rebuilding effort is still going on.