Joplin Recovery Barely Underway Months After Disastrous Tornado


JOPLIN, Mo. -- Empty concrete pads where houses once stood. Untouched playgrounds still riddled with broken glass. A once-bustling retail district, eerily quiet on a weekend night.

Two months after a huge tornado split Joplin in half, the recovery here has barely begun, and the city remains focused on cleaning up massive mounds of debris. But local leaders say Joplin and the neighboring village of Duquesne already face another question: How much to rebuild and how much to reinvent?

"Ninety-nine percent of the time, what we really want to do is return to business as usual, go back to exactly what was there at the earliest possible time, get everyone back in their homes," said Bob Berkebile, a Kansas City architect and disaster recovery specialist who has been working informally as a consultant in Joplin. "But I have never seen a community where they couldn't have made a decision to build back something different."