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Rescuing Joplin

Photograph by Mark Schiefelbein

The infamous F-5 tornado that ravaged Joplin on May 22, 2011, was one of the most costly disasters in Missouri’s history. The mile-wide tornado took the lives of 162 individuals and injured more than 1,000. People were left overwhelmed—until organizations from all over the country stepped forward to offer aid and relief. These organizations continue to help rebuild the city to this very day. The list below is only a sampling.

•    Ozarks Food Harvest, of Springfield, Mo., provided 2,484,388 pounds of food and supplies to the Joplin Disaster Relief efforts. According to Cassie Hanson, the OFH research development coordinator, that means about 1,911,068 meals, valued at more than $4.1 million. (

•    Convoy of Hope, also located in Springfield, Mo., deployed several hundred volunteers, clocking in over 12,000 volunteer hours and bringing 70 tractor-trailer loads of food, water, small tools, and cleaning supplies. (

•    The Salvation Army of St. Louis sent 2,436 volunteers, 486 employees, and 124 officers to help rebuild Joplin, along with hefty donations that they had gathered to purchase supplies. (

•    The American Red Cross sent 700 volunteers to Joplin, 115 of whom came from the Red Cross Greater Ozarks Regional Chapter. K. Nigel Holderby, the chief communications officer for the Ozarks chapter, estimates that Red Cross caseworkers met with over 4,100 people during the course of the disaster and helped to deliver approximately 343,000 meals and snacks. (

•    Heart to Heart International, based in Olathe, Kan., reported seeing 1,055 patient visits and administering 4226 tetanus vaccinations, all made possible by the help of 55 medical volunteers and 15 support volunteers. The vice president for resource development, Pete Brumbaugh, says that, all told, Heart to Heart brought over $100,000 worth of medical aid to Joplin. (

•    AmeriCares, an organization located in Stamford, CT, delivered 96,00 bottles of water, over 1,000 Igloo coolers, 600 blankets and 600 hygiene products, plus antibiotics, pain relievers, and medicines for the chronically ill, including insulin for diabetic patients and rescue inhalers for asthmatics. AmeriCares also administered 1,300 tetanus vaccinations to protect survivors as they searched through the debris and rubble for their belongings. (

•    World Vision, an organization from Washington, provided 144 pallets of supplies – building materials, personal hygiene kits, cleaning products, blankets, children’s shoes, toys, and school supplies. World Vision’s Domestic Disaster Response Team, the first members of their staff to respond to the tornado, coordinated with local churches to mobilize approximately 11,000 volunteers. Christine Connolly Bell, who handles media relations for World Vision’s U.S. bureau, says they are still providing ongoing relief in Joplin by helping to repair and rebuild 50 tornado damaged homes. (

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