WHAT OTHERS SAY: During Joplin's long road back, government aid is key

Tuesday, May 22, 2012 | 4:15 p.m. CDT

Joplin is coming back. That’s the positive takeaway from the latest statistics about rebuilding efforts in the city, which continues to recover from a devastating tornado that killed 161 people a year ago today.

Since then, 130,000 volunteers have donated more than 800,000 hours valued at $17 million to help Joplin after the EF5 twister wiped out houses, stores, schools and a major hospital. Thousands of Kansas City area residents representing churches, businesses, schools, sports teams and other organizations have made the trek to help Joplin.

At the same time, the federal, state and local governments are on pace to supply more than $500 million toward the cause, according to The Associated Press. The Federal Emergency Management Agency supplied trailers for temporary housing, for example, while Joplin voters approved higher property taxes for newer and better schools.

And insurance proceeds of more than $2 billion eventually will help pay to restore houses, businesses and the hospital.

Take a look at that list and it becomes obvious that Joplin can and will come back.

Volunteers — alone — can’t supply all the time, money and expertise needed.

Taxpayers — by themselves — can’t step forward with enough funds to cover all the losses suffered in Joplin.

Instead, the public and private sectors must continue working to complement each other to get Joplin on its feet.

Today is also a good time to acknowledge that — for all the early concerns about how federal and state aid would flow to the city — the city is being helped by government programs that far too many in elected office have tried to scale back to save a few bucks. Joplin provides good evidence that, when tragedy strikes, governments have an obligation to step in and help.

Add in all the assistance from the volunteers, private sector and nonprofits such as the Red Cross, and Joplin has a far brighter future today than it did in the dark and scary hours after that terrible day in 2011.


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Copyright The Kansas City Star. Reprinted with permission. Questions? Contact Opinion editor Elizabeth Conner.

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