Posted: Feb 22, 2012 11:29 PM
Updated: Feb 23, 2012 7:46 AM
JOPLIN, Mo. - Children will go to school in temporary classrooms this year, after an EF5 tornado destroyed several schools in Joplin last May. The twister also took the lives of 161 people including some children.
The Rio Grande Valley has helped rebuild Joplin. Donations upon donations have traveled from here to there. They include musical instruments, cabinets for books and clothes for children. All if it went to help rebuild a community.
"I continue to be amazed at what you all have done for us. I'll never forget that personally," says Joplin Superintendent Dr. CJ Huff.
The consequences of the tornado were more than just the destruction.
"We've had issues, such as 50 percent increase in children who are stuttering. We've added staffing to help those children respond to the trauma they experienced," says Dr. Huff.
Three thousand children lived in the path of the EF5 tornado.
"We have to help people understand we are still not OK. We are OK as we can be. We still have a long way to go on the road to recovery," says Dr. Huff.
Dr. Huff is the superintendent of Joplin Schools. His children and his teachers inspire him.
"It would be easy to walk away from this mess and say 'I'm done.' But when I see what they've been through, they are the reason I get up every day," he says.
The school district still has 3,200 kids in temporary trailers and buildings. They lost six schools in the storm.
Dr. Huff says Joplin wouldn't be on the path to recovery without the Rio Grande Valley.
"It comes down to one word and that's real tough. We respect each other for that. There's certainly a connection of the heart in both communities," he says.
School leaders plan to honor the students who died in the tornado in the new schools being built. They will also be honored in May during the first anniversary of the storm.