While residents in Moore, OK, are just beginning their cleanup endeavor, Joplin, MO, is marking two years since a devastating tornado tore through the town.
Casual visitors can easily pass through the small town without realizing it was hit by one of the deadliest tornados in U.S. history years ago.
The EF-5 tornado killed 161 people and injured more than 1,000 when it hit on May 22, 2011. It caused about $2 billion in damages. Wednesday, locals spent the day remembering those who perished in the natural disaster.
The theme for the second anniversary event being held at Cunningham Park to highlight the milestones Joplin has reached is Resilience, Resolve and Realization.
"This anniversary event will acknowledge the work and the essence of Joplin and Duquesne citizens who have been through so much these past two years, but continue to move forward," said City Manager Mark Rohr. "As part of the program, there will be special announcements for our community and we encourage as many people who can come, to please join us that afternoon."
The program started at 4:40 p.m. and a moment of silence will take place at 5:41 p.m., the time that the tornado touched down in western limits of Joplin.
And when tragedy struck the Oklahoma City suburb of Moore, just three hours to the southwest on Monday, it left Joplin residents again realizing just how fresh their wounds still remain. Joplin City officials organized a support team of public safety employees and deployed them to Moore as soon as they found out about the destruction.
Also at Wednesday's event, city officials have a large banner for all wishing to send messages of hope and encouragement to sign. According to a news release, the 20-foot long banner stating "Miracle of the Human Spirit" displays the message that Joplin has adopted as their mantra these past two years as everyone works together to rebuild the community.
The Moore tornado reminded Joplin residents how close the past remains.
Fourteen first responders drove the three hours southwest to help the Oklahoma town where 24 people were killed Monday. Joplin Police Lt. Sloan Rowland called the trip a "show of solidarity," the Associated Press reported.
Joplin hopes its short-term success can inspire Moore and other communities, AP reported. More than 4,000 damaged homes have been repaired, with nearly 1,100 completely rebuilt. Only a dozen families remain in FEMA trailers that once housed hundreds.
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