After the Storm: A Joplin Update

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Published on: Apr. 15, 2013

a total of $310,000 in contributions. The recovery strategy also called for a portion of the more than 1,000 workers hired through the Disaster Recovery Jobs Program to assist with Joplin tree-planting efforts. Trees were secured through the efforts of a variety of sources including Southwest Missouri Resource Conservation and Development Council, Silver Dollar City, Missouri Master Naturalists, the Federated Garden Clubs of Missouri, and NASCAR. In October 2011, Governor Jay Nixon traveled to the Joplin area to host a tree-planting ceremony at Duquesne Elementary School.

A major contributor to Joplin’s tree recovery has been Forest ReLeaf of Missouri, an independent, nonprofit organization dedicated to inspiring volunteer efforts in planting and caring for trees and forests in communities. To date, Forest ReLeaf has contributed 3,000 trees and has added the capacity to grow 5,000 more trees at its nursery in St. Louis County to help meet the ongoing reforestation needs of Joplin.

“Forest ReLeaf has always provided trees to assist with reforestation efforts after natural disasters,” says Executive Director Donna Coble. “But the sheer scope of tree loss in Joplin, coming on the heels of major tornadoes in St. Louis County that spring, led us to rethink our role post-disaster and, as a result, expand our capacity to meet the long-range restoration needs in communities like Joplin.”

The Southwest Missouri Resource Conservation and Development Council (RC & D) has also had a significant role in this project.

“The RC & D mission is to identify a need in resource conservation, unique development issues as well as other needs of our citizens,” says Kathryn Braden, chair of the Southwest Missouri RC & D. “Then the goal is to bring the need and the solution together. Our motto is ‘Making things happen.’ Obviously, Joplin had a need and replanting the city’s trees would give the population comfort and hope.”

Planting hope

The tree plantings that began in the winter of 2011–12 were conducted in various fashions. Some were organized events that placed a number of trees in the ground in a single day. Other plantings were individual efforts by residents who had received trees through special application processes set up by the city governments of Joplin and Duquesne. The young trees dotting the landscape with increasing frequency gave local residents visions of what they would get in the future and, at the same time, provided clear reminders of what they lacked in

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