Joplin | KCUR


Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3FM

On Sunday May 22, 2011, an EF5 tornado swept through Joplin, Missouri. In minutes, winds reaching up to 200 miles per hour reduced homes and buildings to rubble. One of the deadliest tornadoes to strike the United States left 158 people dead and some 1,150 others injured. 

Joplin is Travis Pratt's hometown. He's a painter who studied ceramics at The Kansas City Art Institute and now splits his time between Kansas City and Joplin. After the storm, Pratt and his father went to visit family members. The scene was disorienting.

Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences

Joplin city leaders and school officials held a ribbon cutting ceremony for the new Kansas City University of Medicine and Bioscience campus on Tuesday.

Built near the site of what was the parking lot of the old Saint John’s Regional Medical Center, which was destroyed in a 2011 tornado that killed 161 people, the new medical school was described as a “phoenix rising from the ashes.”

Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences

With the United States facing a shortage of physicians over the next decade, health care groups and lawmakers are scrambling to increase the number of doctors – primary care providers in particular – to serve an aging population.

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

“I love the chainsaw guys,” Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon interrupts.

Dwain Carter, director of disaster relief for the Missouri Baptists, is trying to tell the group what his organization does in the aftermath of a tornado. Often tree limbs and wooden structures need to be removed by chainsaw crews. But Carter lets the governor continue.

The rebuilding of Joplin after a devastating tornado struck in 2011 was generally applauded as a textbook example of how to take care of people when disaster hits. However, homeowners and businesses on the East Coast are still struggling in the aftermath of 2012's Hurricane Sandy. 


A Kansas City council committee says concerns over the Paris terrorist attacks may help the city to get back on the list of metropolitan areas receiving federal emergency response grants.

The Kansas City area received as much as $8 million a year in Homeland Security money during the first seven years of  the Urban Areas Security Initiative, but the grants dwindled after 2010, with the city getting $1 million in some years and nothing in others, including 2015.

Dan Verbeck / KCUR

Kansas City won’t be getting the volume of federal funding it’s been accustomed to  for preparation against terrorist attacks and natural disasters, said Sen. Claire McCaskill, meeting with Kansas City reporters.

The Senator said the mood toward smaller government will work against paying for disaster aid the way it has been since Sept. 11.

Kansas City has been excluded from a list of to 25 cities to get  public safety and disaster aid. 

McCaskill doubts funding will return for what many consider municipal responsibilities.

Sylvia Maria Gross / KCUR

People in the path of severe weather (and other emergencies) now have a new way to find out about threats: text message alerts, sent straight to mobile devices.

Soil Cleanup Underway In Southwest Missouri

Oct 5, 2012
wikimedia commons

When the tornado tore through Joplin and Duquesne in southwest Mo. in May 2011, not only did it kill 161 people and destroy thousands of buildings, it also unearthed something dangerous:

CRES - Center For Religious Experience And Study

Monday, August 6th, the Islamic Society of Joplin’s mosque was burned to the ground.

Reuiniting Joplin With Their Lost Photos

May 23, 2012
Joplin's Found Photos

When the Joplin tornado struck one year ago, so much was destroyed or scattered that can never be replaced. And it became up to a few creative heroes to restore some of that order.

The President speaks at a Joplin graduation ceremony.  Kansas redistricting case get more plaintiffs.  It’s a daily digest of headlines from KCUR.

Next Monday, President Barack Obama will visit Joplin, Mo, almost one year to the day after a devastating tornado ripped through the center of the city, destroying countless homes and the lives of more than 160 people.

The Rebuild Joplin Studio Project

Dec 20, 2011

On this Tuesday's Central Standard, a look at UMKC's Rebuild Joplin Studio Project. For those working on it, they quickly learned that this is more than just another class, but an opportunity to rebuild a resilient Joplin.

City in Dire Need, Joplin Aid

May 30, 2011

Kansas City, MO – More is coming out about how a thrown-together setup was able to move the injured from Joplin's tornado.The critical need for more ambulances than the city could provide was worked out early in the disaster. In the analysis that came days later, three emergency services from the Kansas City area and a Springfield hospital turned chaos into something workable. KCUR's Dan Verbeck has more of the story.

Joplin, Mo. – After touring the destruction in some of Joplin's hardest-hit areas yesterday (Sunday), President Obama addressed a packed auditorium on the Missouri State Southern University campus. KBIA's Courtney Flatt was there and has this report.

St. Louis, Mo. – The tornado that slammed into Joplin on Sunday is now the eighth deadliest on record. The death toll reached 122 people last nigh. The National Weather Service has increased the rating of the storm's strength to an EF-5 - the highest category. Winds topped 200 miles per hour. Search and rescue crews rescued two more people from the wreckage yesterday (Tuesday), bringing the total number of rescues to nine.

Volunteers Aid in Rescue Efforts in Joplin

May 24, 2011
photo: Dan Verbeck/KCUR

Joplin, Mo. – Missouri Governor Jay Nixon wants a second search of every collapsed building. But a city official says all FEMA requirements are being met, including double examinations of buildings. Relief work though has barely begun. Dan Verbeck is in Joplin and has this report.

JOPLIN, Mo. – The fatality count in Joplin Missouri is up to 116, and as KCUR's Dan Verbeck reports, Missouri Governor Jay Nixon is ordering a second search for survivors.

Outside the shambles of the now closed regional hospital, Governor Jay Nixon just finished speaking with reporters in the midst of a blinding lightning and thunderstorm and an eye-watering mix of spilled gasoline from scores of cars tumbled about in the parking lot.

JOPLIN, Mo. – Rescue crews in Joplin are continuing to make a block by block search for survivors of last night's deadly tornado. So far officials have confirmed 116 dead, with more expected.

KCUR's Dan Verbeck is in Joplin and says rescuers are searching an 80 square block area. The weather, he says, isn't helping.

Tornado Devastates Joplin

May 23, 2011
Photo: Dan Verbeck/KCUR

Joplin, Mo. – [Updated: June 9, 2011: 151 people died from injuries. More than 900 people were injured in the storm.] Authorities say at least 89 have died in the massive tornado that struck Joplin. City manager Mark Rohr announced the number at a pre-dawn news conference outside the wreckage of a hospital that took a direct hit from Sunday's storm. Rohr said the twister cut a path nearly six miles long and more than a half-mile wide through the center of town.

photo: Dan Verbeck/KCUR

JOPLIN, Mo. – A massive tornado that tore through the southwest Missouri city of Joplin killed at least 89 people, but authorities warned that the death toll could climb Monday as search and rescuers continued their work at sunrise.