May 22 2012 – Day of Unity

We shot video of Misti’s Mission in action and interviewed some of her employees. Misti uses grant money to employ people who are down on their luck. She teaches them life skills and helps them build up a resume so that they can find long-term work when they graduate from her program.

We filmed Joplin’s Walk of Unity and watched the groundbreaking ceremony for the new High School being built to replace the one torn apart by the tornado. For the 2011-2012 school year school was held in the Northpark Mall and the food court was used as a cafeteria. Joplin was contact by the United Arab Emirates who wanted to help with the recovery effort. The UAE wanted to do more than just replace what was already in place so they asked what the school had on its wish-list before the disaster; because of the UAE’s support there is now one laptop for every student in Joplin High School.

At 5:41, the one year anniversary of the tornado, we interviewed James McKeel who lost his father in the storm. The house where James’s father lived was in the first block where the tornado touched ground. Across the street from his house the buildings remained structurally intact but starting with it everything for miles was leveled. James talked to us about what it was like searching for bodies in the rubble at night without any electricity. During his free time James is a sky diving instructor and he told us that jumping helps him find release for never getting to say good-bye to his father.
After talking to James we interviewed his friends and family.

Justin Cafer talked to us about how the local businesses stepped up and gave people time off to help with recovery. The auto shop he was working at started replacing tires and windshields for free.

While driving from our interview with James towards the Day of Unity celebrations, Stacy recognized Olaf Hensen as one of the people who spoke in the discussion after the Reading from the Book of Job so we swung around to interview him. Olaf was a career architect who worked for FEMA in multiple disasters evaluating the structural integrity of buildings hit by disaster. He was so moved by the community in Joplin that he is retiring and marrying a local teacher. As a FEMA employee he shared his experiences visiting dozens of survivors every day for months. He emphasized how important it was for disaster workers to protect their physical and psychological health. FEMA’s mission is to prevent the disaster from expanding into problems such as disease or building failures so Olaf had to detach himself from the desire to comfort the people he was helping in order to get to everyone in time.

Closing out our day we talked to the team of Operation BBQ Relief. They are a group of competitive BBQ hobbyists who decided to get involved in the relief effort after the tornado last year. They have since expanded to regions as far away as Pennsylvania. They took their skills and equipment and managed to feed over a hundred thousand meals a day using contributions from companies like Enterprise and Sam’s Club.

Published by Obsidian Expeditions

Based in Jackson, WYO, Obsidian Expeditions provides privately guided road-based tours of Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks. We are an authorized permittee of the National Park Service.

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