JOPLIN, Mo. (AP) -- A new park in Joplin that opened on the third anniversary of a tornado that killed 161 people is designed as a healing spot for those who survived the storm.
The Resilience Butterfly Garden and Overlook opened Thursday at Cunningham Park during at the same time the tornado hit Joplin three years ago, The Joplin Globe reported.
The garden and overlook were designed by architecture students at Drury University in Springfield. It re-creates the outline of three homes that were destroyed by the tornado, and incorporates a pavilion, water features, storyboards and benches. The dedication also completed the rebuilding for the three Joplin parks—Cunningham, Parr Hill and Garvin—that were damaged or destroyed by the tornado.
“We are dedicating this on the third anniversary to tie that time to a new positive thing, other than just the tornado, to help people move forward,” said Traci Sooter, director of design/build programs at Drury.
Pamela Praytor said she finds it difficult but comforting to visit Cunningham Park. The name of her son, Christopher Lucas, is engraved on a monument in the park in memory of the 161 people who died.
“Even though I cry when I come, it’s OK,” she said. “It’s part of the healing.”
The park also is intended for others who have suffered losses, Sooter said.
“I hope it helps (the people of Joplin) heal, and not only from the tornado, but from whatever thing has happened to them that has caused them pain,” Sooter said. “There are people every day that lose loved ones and have different tragedies happen in their lives, and this is for them too.”
Bonnie Hinman, who survived the tornado inside her family’s business, said she was impressed by the project.
“I have mixed feelings; part of me wants to remember, and part of me wants to move on,” she said. “But I think this will be a nice place to come to.
The project was funded through the TKF Foundation, which provided Joplin and New York City part of a $585,000 grant to create open spaces for recovery and healing after the tornado in 2011 and Superstorm Sandy in 2012.