OHSEPR Responds to Nation’s Deadliest Tornado in Years

What was supposed to be another quiet Sunday evening in the town of Joplin, Missouri, turned into a night of terror on May 22, 2011. An EF-5 tornado touched down in the western edge of the city. Within minutes, the twister with winds as high as 190 mph tore through six miles of the town’s densely populated area, killing 160 residents and injuring more than 900 others.

Around 8,000 houses, businesses and public buildings, including a hospital, were flattened or severely damaged. Thousands of families were left homeless. Within a week, a federal disaster proclamation was granted, releasing crucial funds and services to help the community rebuild.

Among the tornado's impacts was severe damage to the city's child care infrastructure--19 child care centers were destroyed and eight others badly damaged.

The Office of Human Services Emergency Preparedness and Response deployed with the Department of Health and Human Services Incident Response Coordination Team, to Joplin to provide expertise, consultation and technical assistance to HHS partners on human services issues.

In the wake of the tornado, the Joplin Child Care Task Force was formed to address the dual challenges of meeting emergency child care needs and preparing for long-term recovery of the city's child care infrastructure. Around 670 child care slots were affected by this devastation.

The Joplin Child Care Task Force brought together a broad range of state agencies and nonprofits. Due to the efforts of the Task Force, emergency child care needs were met, and most of the lost child care slots were restored by September. 

Action was taken to address the behavioral health needs of children in child care settings and the providers who care for them. Long-term efforts to rebuild the child care infrastructure of the Joplin community continue today.