JOPLIN, Mo. – This small Missouri town still looks like a war zone almost two months after an F5 tornado tore a one-mile wide by six-mile long swath of destruction. Recovering from such devastation, if it every really happens at all, is extremely slow and piecemeal.
According to Chris Knight, who owns Deck the Walls in Joplin, 300 to 400 truckloads of debris are being removed from the town daily. Knight says that only a portion of the debris has been removed so far and the goal is to get it all out by Aug. 7, a tall order indeed.
“If you thought you saw a war zone on TV doesn’t even come close to what it’s like when you’re actually standing there. There are no landmarks; I’ve never seen anything like it. It’s horrific and heartbreaking,” says Knight.
Though Deck the Walls was spared the brunt of the tornado’s destruction they lost thousands of dollars in framing equipment when a storage shed at the edge of the tornado’s path was reduced to matchsticks.
Still, Deck the Walls decided to do something, anything, to help with the town’s recovery. Despite the financial loss and the inevitable loss of regular business during the recovery, Deck the Walls is in the process of replacing the treasured photographic keepsakes of countless citizens and has printed memorials for many of the more than 150 people lost in the storm. Recovery is not only physical, but emotional, and re-printing lost memories is one way to help heal those wounds.
Working in concert with local photographers, Deck the Walls is re-printing the portraits lost in the storm. With donated print materials from LexJet, those photos are slowly but surely being replaced.
“We’re trying to help as much as we can, even in a roundabout way. We got three rolls of Sunset Select Matte Canvas and a roll of Sunset Photo eSatin Paper from LexJet to replace those prints. A gallery wrap canvas doesn’t do much good until they have a place to hang it, but as they rebuild they’ll have they’re portraits back,” says Knight.
If you’re looking for a way to help the residents of Joplin recover from the tornado, here are some resources to check out:
World Vision: Go to www.worldvision.org, call 888-56-CHILD (24453), or give a $10 donation by texting TORNADO to 20222.
United Way: Call 417-624-0153.
Salvation Army: To donate to the The Salvation Army’s efforts, visit www.salvationarmyusa.org and click on the donation page. You can call 1-800-SAL-ARMY and donors can text JOPLIN to 80888 to make a $10 donation. And you can mail a donation to Joplin Tornado Relief: The Salvation Army, 3637 Broadway, Kansas City, Mo. 64111.
Facebook: Go to www.facebook.com/joplinmo for updates and other ways to help.