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Photos: Joplin, Mo., tornado victims get back to normal

August 18, 2011 |  9:20 am

Joplin, Mo
Nothing much is routine in Joplin, Mo., these days. The community continues to recover from a May 22 tornado that ripped through the region, killing 160 people and destroying nearly 8,000 homes and businesses.

But in the wake of the tornado, authorities set an ambitious goal: School would be in session, on schedule, to give kids a much-needed sense of normalcy. This week, they achieved that goal. Take a look at this photo gallery documenting the first day of class at several local schools -- several in makeshift locations. 

As Matt Pearce wrote in the L.A. Times, it was an emotional milestone -- a victory of sorts over the tornado, not to mention a critical step in the recovery process -- that class was indeed back in session.

There have been some changes. Joplin High School, which was badly damaged by the disaster,
is now located inside a vacant department store at the mall, seen above. And a converted warehouse is now the new home of a middle school.

"Many families lost their homes, lost their jobs — but still have their mortgages — and they just want their kids to be in school," Jeremy Schamber, principal of Martin Luther Christian School, told Pearce.

Moved by Joplin residents' spirit and determination, well-wishers have been sending donations their way. District spokesman Jim Dunn told the Huffington Post that the most helpful donation would be money. Funds are being used to make sure kids have basics like backpacks, clothes and classroom materials.

--Rene Lynch
On Twitter @renelynch


In shattered Joplin, kids head back to class

Satellite images of Joplin, Mo., before and after the tornado

Mementos scattered by Joplin tornado gradually returned home

Photo: Many schools were damaged in the tornado, and have seen moved to makeshift locations. That leads to even more first-day-of-school confusion. Here, parent volunteer Dan Miller helps students find their way. (Keith Myers / Kansas City Star / MCT)