JOPLIN, Mo. — Even though Joplin has been rebuilding for the past 5 years there will forever be a scar left in the middle of town. The path of the EF-5 monster storm still marks the land.
KOLR10 Meteorologist John Zeigler went to Joplin to meet a survivor who has picked up the pieces from that horrifying day.
Even 5 years after the Joplin tornado the devastation is still a vivid memory
“There are still alot of people stuck at 5:41 May 2011,” says tornado survivor Ann Leach.
“You still get emotional, like I am now, you still remember,” KOLR10’s John Zeigler asks.
Ann didn’t realize her house was about to get ripped apart like so many others that day
“At one point I felt a peice of sheet rock fall over me and it formed a sort of tee pee against the wall of the bathroom, and that what I really feel saved my life,” Ann says.
The only thing Ann didn’t lose that day was her life. “It was like a war zone.”
“We are in one of the worst hit areas from 5 years ago in the Joplin tornado, you look at all of the areas, a lot of pockets of wounds healed, but I am in a vacant parking lot showing the blemishes that are still here today,” Zeigler points out.
This is what Joplin looked like before the tornado, a day after the tornado you can clearly see the devastation, this what Joplin looks like today you can see a lot of homes rebuilt. Buts it’s still far off from what this community looked like before the tornado.
“I remember at one point looking up and going huh? There’s no roof,” Ann remembers. “I mean consciously I was aware of it, at one point I yelled ‘help’. But my brain kicked in and said don’t be crazy no one is here to hear you.”
Standing in what used to be her kitchen, now reduced to rubble, Ann realized she needed a fresh start. “Going back would prolong my own grief experience,”
Ann’s house was eventually rebuilt but she didn’t think that was part of her recovery process
“We were never a building, its the human spirit that brings us through.”
But she still decided to move to a different part of town.
“When I was looking for places, watch out for the windows, make sure to notice the windows, and trees are great but they can fall on your house.”
But she didn’t care. “It doesn’t define me anymore.”
Because her rebuild was about more than just a house.
“Now somebody spills something on the carpet, I’m like, eh-whatever. It’s not important. I’m not going to let fear run my life.”