Governor meets with Joplin residents receiving Habitat for Humanity homes

Sunday, October 30, 2011 | 7:27 p.m. CDT

JOPLIN — Gov. Jay Nixon met with Joplin residents who are receiving houses from Habitat for Humanity on Sunday afternoon.

Teams from Habitat for Humanity in Tulsa, Okla., and Joplin have joined efforts for the Ten for Joplin project, which aims to build 10 houses in 16 days for low-income families impacted by the tornado that hit Joplin on May 22. 

"Habitat for Humanity has a solid mission," Nixon said. "People use their faith in action."

Construction began on Saturday. The sound of hammers hitting nails echoed down Kentucky Avenue, where 10 frames stood just 24 hours later. 

Nixon walked up and down Kentucky Avenue, meeting with the site supervisors of each home and the families who will soon move into them.

Dozens of volunteers worked on each house. In addition to the many local volunteers, many came from Arkansas, Oklahoma, California, and Detroit.

"(Volunteers) come from all across the country to give their time, and the people whose homes are being built are working on their own homes, too," Nixon said. "It strengthens peoples' spirits to be able to work for others."

Zachary Cook, 8, carried around his stuffed dog named Puppy, a treasure the storm didn't take. The apartment Zachary lived in with his mother, Carrie, and 6-year-old brother, Aidan, was destroyed. 

Zachary said he can't sleep without Puppy, so the night of the tornado, his father walked the three miles from where the family had taken shelter to their destroyed apartment where he found the stuffed animal. 

For Zachary, Puppy is a sign of hope. 

"I got him back, and it made me very, very, very happy," Zachary said. "God always has a plan for everything." 

He and his brother were excited to meet the governor. As Aidan shook Nixon's hand, he jumped up and down so excitedly his hard hat fell off. 

Thomas and Sam Short have invited their friends and family to spend Thanksgiving in their new home.

Before the tornado, the Shorts lived on the corner of Cunningham Avenue and 23rd Street and now live in a FEMA trailer near the airport. 

Thomas Short shrugged his shoulders and laughed when the governor asked about their temporary home.

"It's a trailer park," he said. 

Sam Short invited the governor to Thanksgiving dinner.

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