Joplin Remembered, Lessons Learned

May 23, 2012, 4:49 PM, Posted by NewPublicHealth

Late in the afternoon on May 22, 2011, a multiple vortex tornado struck Joplin, Mo., a city of about 50,000 people. The tornado and its aftermath left 161 dead and more than 900 injured along with the destruction of thousands of homes, businesses, schools, and one of the community’s major health care facilities, St. John’s Medical Center.

Yesterday marked a day of reflection on the anniversary of the deadly tornado. Residents gathered to commemorate the losses, but also to focus on what's next on the continued path to recovery, reports the Associated Press.

We also reflect on our coverage of the events at Joplin and the efforts of public health and preparedness professionals to both recover and capture lessons learned in preparedness:

  • Melissa Friel, Director of the Center for Emergency Response and Terrorism at the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, spoke with NewPublicHealth about lessons learned.
  • Paul Jarris, MD, Executive Director of the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials, talked about what cuts in public health preparedness funding mean for state and local health departments and for the health and safety of Americans.
  • Social media was a critical tool in Joplin disaster relief efforts.
  • Improved tornado warnings were a feature of the post-Joplin preparedness discussion, both about Joplin and regarding subsequent tornadoes.

>>Read more about Joplin and public health preparedness.

This commentary originally appeared on the RWJF New Public Health blog.