NPLI Founding Co-Director Dr. Leonard Marcus was privileged to deliver a keynote address at the Joplin Disaster Recovery Summit in May 2016 at Missouri South State University. The event was held to commemorate that fifth anniversary of the devastating tornado that ripped through the town and, more important, the resilience of the population and the kindness of individuals, organizations, and communities across the nation that rallied to support Joplin in its time of need.
NPLI alum and event organizer Jane Cage (Cohort XI) described it this way:
As we approached the fifth anniversary of the tornado, I thought it was important that we found a way to “Pay It Forward” for the extraordinary kindnesses that had been shown to Joplin after the May 2011 tornado. As part of the commemoration, we decided our best approach was to share what we had learned along the way by holding a Disaster Recovery Summit that focused on long-term community recovery. We weren’t vain enough to believe that Joplin had all the answers or the best approach so we invited officials to speak from other affected communities through the central US including Tuscaloosa, AL; Moore, OK; Cedar Rapids, IA; Minot, ND; Greensburg, KS; Pilger, NE; and Vilonia, AR. Topics included Stemming Population Loss; How to Deal with Debris Removal; The Stress of Long-Term Community Leadership; The Role of Citizens; Managing Mental Health Issues; Dealing with Donations and many others.
A conference highlight was having Lenny come as our keynote speaker. His moving speech focused on highlighting the best and the worst of the human spirit as well as swarm intelligence. I have to thank the American Red Cross for covering his expenses to come. Jono Anzalone, also of Cohort XI, provided the summit with grant money that we used to fund scholarships for agencies and officials from small towns who might not otherwise been able to attend. I had hoped that our attendance might reach 150 attendees. I was astounded on the opening day when we had reached 330 registrations from 30 states and over 175 agencies. People came from as far away as the Los Angeles Emergency Management Department on the west coast to Pennsylvania on the east coast.
Feedback from the conference was terrific and underscores the need for more information sharing around issues that communities face long after first responders have gone.
It was indeed a day to be Joplin Proud! You can watch the full keynote on YouTube: