Joplin rebuilds, one day at a time

JOPLIN, Mo. - City officials say property damage from last year's deadly tornado in Joplin totaled just under $3 billion.

That's homes, businesses and even 18,000 cars that were damaged or destroyed.

At the six-month mark, much of the tornado zone was just finishing cleaning up the debris. Now, much of the zone is filled with construction crews.

But there are some areas where the recovery is not so evident.

Tim Story's construction company is leading crews at three Habitat for Humanity houses sponsored by Major League Baseball.

Story has helped frame the city's physical recovery over the past year.

"I think they've gone leaps and bounds. It's just amazing how people have pitched in," he said. "People have come from miles and miles away to help this city, and it really shows."

With the tornado zone is now largely a construction zone, there's still a lot of work to be done.

Some of the more than 500 business and 7,500 homes were destroyed still need to be demolished.

They remain a scar in the city's landscape.

"A lot of those buildings are a bad reminder for the people that were right in the middle of it," said Story.

And basic infrastructure is still lacking.

New power poles and tornado sirens are up. But many intersections still have street names painted on the pavement rather than signs on the corners.

"(It's) still kind of a work in process," said Mike Woolston, a Joplin city council member. "Obviously that's something we need to do, but we felt that there were other priorities that needed to be taken care of first."

A few tree branches still hold storm debris.

But leaves are coming back on trees that had entire canopies sheared off by the tornado.

And the Spirit Tree is painted bright colors - a telling sign of Joplin's determination to rebuild and recover from the storm.

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