JOPLIN, Mo. (AP) -- A nonprofit group established to help Joplin rebuild after the 2011 tornado that demolished the southwest Missouri city still has plenty of work to do but has been steadily losing volunteers.
“We’re in tremendous need for volunteer support. Over the last six months, we’ve seen a pretty drastic decline in volunteer support here in Joplin,” said Thomas Corley, executive director of Rebuild Joplin. “Our annual need this year is closer to 3,500, but we have already missed the boat.”
Rebuild Joplin had about 10,000 volunteers in 2012; 3,500 in 2013, and so far in 2014, there have been about 1,300, The Joplin Globe reported. Corley said most of the volunteers have been from outside Missouri.
Nine projects have been approved by Rebuild Joplin and are slated to start, but have been delayed because of a lack of volunteers. Three projects underway are hitting construction delays because of a lack of volunteers.
The May 2011 tornado ripped through Joplin, destroying homes, schools, buildings and killing 161 people. Corley, who keeps a list of the remaining tornado survivors who are in need of rebuilding and repair services, said he doesn’t want them to wind up on yet another waiting list or in more temporary housing.
“But as volunteers drop, as folks cancel without much notice, we’re left at having committed ourselves to people that they’d be home by September, and it can’t happen,” Corley said.
He said staff at Rebuild Joplin have also been concerned by reports from volunteers who call saying they’re interested in giving back to Joplin but have heard from the community “there is no more work to do.”
“We aren’t done,” Corley said. “There is more work to do.”