Treasures Discovered After Natural Disaster


“The storm blew in more than it blew out.” ~Joplin Tornado Survivor

On May 22, 2011, a tornado 7 miles in length ripped through the town of Joplin, Missouri. In a community of 49, 024 people, Joplin lost 160 people and nearly 8000 structures in a few deadly moments.

joplin tornado

I recently spent a day in this southwest Missouri town helping rebuild homes. While most of the debris has been cleared, there are many homes, schools, and trees that are vacant. Despite all the loss and destruction this town has endured, I was blown away by the strength and gratitude I encountered.

I left that day saddened yet awestruck, wondering how this community could be grateful after such a deadly disaster. I was gracious to hear one woman’s story of how she survived after the tornado left her home with only one wall standing.

A Treasure to Find Something Positive Amidst Something Horrible…

As I listened to her story, I heard her resilience, gratitude, and the determination to live in spite of great obstacles in her way. Here’s what she shared about what’s helped her see the treasures along her path of rebuilding her home and life:

  • Be grateful for what you have. Your loved ones that are still living. And, the memories and the time you were given with the loved ones you’ve lost.
  • Hold onto your faith. Know that you are not alone. Lean on the strength your faith brings.
  • Accept help. Watch for people to step up and help you do the things you can’t do by yourself.
  • Allow grief to come and go. Let the mourning flow. It will pass, but first it needs to flow.

Her house has been completely rebuilt in 7 months by volunteers donating their time. She freely opens up her home to these volunteers and has made lifelong friends. Among the volunteers are people like you and me from Missouri and surrounding states.

The debris is mostly cleaned up, but there is still a lot of work to do. While some homes and businesses have been rebuilt, many more homes and schools are still in the process of cleaning up and rebuilding. Life has gone on for these Joplin residents, but they still need our help.

How can you help this community rebuild?

Volunteer by calling a Joplin church to schedule a work day. Donate money to help with building materials and even school textbooks. Help in anyway you feel called to lend a hand. It is literally taking a nation of volunteers to rebuild this community, so every hand makes a difference.

This town has lost a lot, but it has found treasures in the memories, the strength, and the volunteers. They may have lost their homes and loved ones, but the tornado has not taken their resolve to rebuild and live in spite of the destruction.

A story of survival, healing, & hope told by the people who lived through it.


How do you hold onto positives in spite of difficult times in your life?


Related Posts: Encounter Meaning Amidst Disaster; 5 Ripple Making Steps to Liberate a Life

Love, Care, Donate: Joplin still needs our help rebuilding. Donate Here.


Photo Credit: “Under the Rainbow” by Hartwig HKD; “Absolute Destruction” by John Daves

6 responses to “Treasures Discovered After Natural Disaster

  1. Beautiful post!
    Truly being grateful for what we have, such a great reminder.
    I keep a gratitude journal and writing down even the smallest things or events taking place in my life for which I am grateful for have guided me on a journey full of positivity.
    Also daily affirmations work wonders. Inserting what I am grateful for into the affirmation process helps so much.
    Thank you for this post 🙂

    • Tali, I’m excited to have you back. Thank you for sharing your ideas for keeping perspective. It’s easy for me to see the positive/upside in what others are going through, but much harder to do it myself. When I can find the upside, it makes the hard stuff more worth wading through!

  2. Marci,
    This is such a gift – YOU, taking time from your daily life to help this great city of Joplin. Thank you – for being a light of goodness in this world…

    And – I can’t even begin to imagine what it must have been like to have been in this destruction when it was going on – and then to begin the cleanup and rebuilding process.

    Our world is filled with wonderful people – and an event like this really highlights what is possible and how we can come together in unity.

    …it’s an honor to know you…

  3. Lance, you are too kind and make me sound like a saint. I did my small part. I was happy to be able to go and meet a few of the people in this amazing city.

  4. So good of you to go and help out, Marci. I often wonder what happens to places like Joplin, devastated by natural or human forces, long after the media hes deemed it no longer worthy of the spotlight. It sounds like a soulful place with plenty of good people who are determined to rebuild. Thanks for sharing.

    • Belinda, So good to hear from you! I know I was assuming the town was done rebuilding, while major movement has been made, there is still a lot to be done. Hoping to do my part to keep awareness up. And, yes, it was a great town.