|Two families displaced by the Joplin tornado more than a year ago received the keys to their new homes. The keys were presented to the Jump Family and the Smith Family by Gabe Tischler, disaster coordinator for Catholic Charities of Southern Missouri on July 27, 2012. Tischler headed a construction team of community and faith-based organizations, supported largely by volunteer labor crews. Larry and Amy Jump and their three sons Hunter, Caden and Lucas (ages 9, 6 and 4) moved into a new house built on the site of their previously destroyed home. The boys now have separate bedrooms and a fenced-in yard to play in during summer vacation.
About the move, Larry remarked, “A huge weight has been lifted off our family. It’s been a true blessing to have this help, for sure.”
During construction, both Amy and Larry often worked side by side with the volunteers, with Amy remarking proudly, “I can lay laminate now, and I’m pretty good at it!”
The young parents are especially glad that one of the bedroom closets in the house was constructed as a safe room. “It’s peace of mind,” Larry said. Amy added with a laugh, “I’d love to hang out there the minute it starts to rain.”
New home for the Smith Family also on their former lot
Emily Smith and her sons, Alex (12) and Gavin (5), also moved back to their old address. They were home when the tornado struck.
Emily recalls, “The sirens went off but I didn’t think much of it. I continued cooking dinner. Then a friend came to the house and yelled to get in the bathtub. I said why and he said, ‘I just saw a car fly down the road” and he didn’t mean on the ground.”
The house was essentially destroyed although some framing remained that had to be reinforced during the rebuild. It was important to Emily to stay in the same house.
“It was my grandmother’s house and she was very special to me, " Emily said. "It’s always been in the family since it was built new by my grandparents in 1971.”
Emily especially enjoyed meeting and greeting the volunteers. “There’s been someone probably from every state at my house," she recounted. "I’ve got friends all over the place. I barbecued for my volunteers yesterday, made hot dogs and hamburgers. You should have seen their eyes light up.”
Taking many photos of the volunteer groups that worked on her house, Emily plans to arrange the photos as a collage in a large frame and hang it on the living room wall. Above it she plans to stencil and paint the words of a favorite country song by Miranda Lambert, “The House that Built Me.”