On May 22, 2011, a catastrophic tornado ripped through the streets of Joplin, Missouri. 161 lives were lost. 7,000 homes were destroyed. And a devastated community was forced to band together and start rebuilding.
But the people of Joplin were not alone. Emergency responders, supplies, and donations poured into the city from across the state--and across the country. President Obama visited the site to comfort the grieving and pledge his Administration's support.
And in the weeks that followed, the Federal Highway Administration stepped up with more than $3 million in emergency relief funds to reimburse Missouri for repairing roads and bridges, and the Department of Housing and Urban Development awarded a $350,000 grant to establish a Habitat for Humanity program to help replenish the city's housing.
A year later, the everyday rhythms of life have returned to Joplin. But much work remains to fully rebuild the city. And yesterday, I traveled to Missouri to remind the people of Joplin that DOT is still their partner in recovery.
I joined Joplin Mayor Melodee Colbert-Kean to announce a $12 million TIGER grant that will construct two highway overpasses above the Kansas City Southern Railway line in Joplin. The project, which is just one of the 47 grants awarded in our latest round of TIGER funding, will help the city's transportation systems recover by improving safety and eliminating delays at the rail crossing.
And, in a community that experienced a jump in unemployment following the tornado, this investment will continue Joplin and Jasper County's recovery by creating jobs and laying down a strong foundation for future economic growth.
President Obama in Joplin following last year's tornado, photo courtesy Kansas City Star
Spending time in Joplin, I couldn't help but admire the perseverance and resilience I saw all around me. While last year's tornado destroyed many things, it could not destroy these proud Missourians' spirit, and they have truly demonstrated for all of us what being an American means.
As Joplin's residents continue rebuilding their great city, the Obama Administration and the Department of Transportation will continue to stand with them.