Joplin Tornado
Joplin, Missouri
Location: Joplin, Missouri

Bringing relief to those who lost everything

On May 22, 2011, everything changed in an instant for the residents of Joplin, Missouri like Lion Sandy Taylor. “Our ears started to pop and we heard this roar,” described Taylor. As her family took refuge, their home disappeared around them. “The roof went off, but the ceiling didn’t go off of the bathroom. And I think that’s what saved us.”

A town devastated, but not alone

Taylor is one of seven Lions members in Joplin who lost everything when the deadliest single tornado in the U.S. since 1947 tore a path a mile wide and 14 miles long through their hometown. In a few short minutes, more than 7,500 homes were destroyed, displacing 50,000 residents. Although local Lions like Taylor experienced the devastation, they were among the first to help, preparing and delivering relief bags and meals and providing emotional support for victims.

Lions were there, and Lions Clubs International Foundation (LCIF) was right there with them. Within hours, LCIF had awarded a US$10,000 Emergency grant, and Lions were sending in generous donations. A total of US$140,000 has been mobilized for Joplin tornado relief efforts. “I am so very proud to say that LCIF has been with us every step of the way! We knew we had emergency help within hours of the tornado. With the additional funding from Lions and LCIF we have been doing some amazing things in Joplin, Missouri. It is great to know in the midst of a tragedy like this you are not alone,” said District Governor Debbie Whittlesey, Lebanon, Missouri.

Lions get to work

With financial and hands-on support, Lions have been able to help Joplin residents by cleaning up two dozen home sites, keeping a shelter’s groceries stocked and providing school supplies for area children so school could still start on time, despite the destruction of five schools. And Lions like Taylor will remain dedicated to the long rebuilding process: “It is great being able to go out and help others, particularly when you’re someone who has been impacted by the disaster. And that’s just what Lions do—we serve.”