Monday, October 15, 2012

LDS Chapel In Joplin, Missouri Finally Rebuilt 16 Months After Killer Tornado

Just 16 months after it was wiped out by the killer F5 tornado which roared through Joplin, Missouri on May 22nd, 2011, the stake center of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has been rebuilt and is back in operation. According to one person posting a comment to KSL Channel 5, the building and its classrooms are smaller than before. Reconstruction did not begin until November 2011, around seven months after the tornado hit. The center was used by both the Joplin First Ward and Second Ward for its normal services, as well as for various stakewide events.

The chapel was formally re-dedicated on September 29th, 2012. Presiding was Elder Tad R. Callister of the Presidency of the Seventy, who offered the dedicatory prayer; Joplin Stake President Creed R. Jones, whose home was one of the more than 7,000 destroyed, conducted the session. Elder Callister warned that the new stake center itself will not save lives, but only dedication to Jesus Christ can save us. He added that there is no tornado, earthquake, job loss or other misfortune that can take away eternal blessings if members have faith in Jesus Christ and keep His commandments.

No LDS members are known to have lost their lives in the tornado. Eight church members rode out the storm inside the stake center in what turned out to be the only area of the building left standing -- the women's restroom. Also left standing was the wall upon which was hung a picture of Jesus Christ. The sheer magnitude of the disaster is reflected in the overall statistics; at least 75 percent of the city suffered some damage, and 20-25 percent of it was destroyed. Only 158 lives were lost.

As for the rest of Joplin, it continues its steady recovery from the disaster. According to a recent post on the Joplin Tornado Recovery Facebook Page, 75 percent of the homes damaged or destroyed are under permit for reconstruction. Volunteers to help in the continuing reconstruction are being solicited on the RebuildJoplin website. Joplin was also recently awarded $45.26 million in federal disaster recovery funds through the Community Development Block Grant program.

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