Joplin man living in tent while volunteers rebuild his home

5 years 4 months 2 weeks ago Friday, September 05 2014 Sep 5, 2014 Friday, September 05, 2014 10:52:00 AM CDT September 05, 2014 in News
By: Lee Anne Denyer, KOMU 8 Reporter
loading

JOPLIN - Three years after a deadly EF-5 tornado touched down in Joplin killing 161 people, people left behind are still trying to recover. 

Mark Hensen moved into his home more than thirty years ago. He raised five kids in Joplin and has worked for the local cable company in his neighborhood for years. His job familiarized him with the area and the people in it. 

"This is my area and I knew a lot of people, a lot of people that died a lot of people just moved. Never saw them again," Hensen said.

Despite the destruction, Hensen's home more-or-less remained intact. Hensen said a large tree came through the roof and caused the ceiling to cave in, starting a chain reaction of ailments against the aging home.

"I think I had like nine windows completely gone," Hensen said. "I had plastic on them and it was a cold winter, that last one, winter was cold. I didn't know if I could take another winter or not."

Hensen said the plastic over the windows remained for during the three years since the tornado. He said this year he finally decided he couldn't handle another Missouri winter without heat or windows. Three years later, he reached out to non-profit construction organization, Rebuild Joplin.

"I told them I really was attached to my house and really would like to keep it if they could," he said. "They came through and saw what it would take to bring back and try and keep some of the same character to it. They said it had an inate sort of character to it." 

Rebuild Joplin works with Joplin residents who are trying to restore their housing following the deadly tornado. The organization formed immediately after the tornado and relies on volunteers from across the country to rebuild the homes destroyed in the storm.

"We can't leave until this is truly finished once every homeowner who was affected is back into similar housing situation until then we really need to stay committed to this thing," Executive Director Thomas Corley said.

Volunteers surveyed Hensen's home and found it needed much more than new windows. Volunteers with Rebuild Joplin will install new floors, ceilings, insulation, windows and much more, all while keeping the integrity and personality of the home. Hensen isn't alone. There are still dozens of homes waiting to be fixed. Corley said Rebuild Joplin currently has nine active sites and the organization hopes to complete an additional 37 projects this year. A drastic drop in volunteers, however, has slowed efforts by the organization. In the meantime, Hensen lives in a tent on his property.

Abenescio Fransua is a site supervisor with Rebuild Joplin and working with Hensen on the construction at his home. Fransua said he's seen a drop in volunteers since he joined the organization.

"The numbers have been dwindling," he said. "Until that last house is done, until that last nail is put down, c'mon, it's our neighbors. Let's go ahead and do it." 

In 2012, a year after the tornado, around 10,000 people volunteered with Rebuid Joplin. In 2013, volunteer numbers dropped to 3,500 and this year volunteers have only reached 1,300. Corley estimated if 40-50 volunteers worked on projects through the end of the year, Rebuild Joplin's work would be done. Rebuild Joplin reports only 5 percent of its volunteers are from Missouri. A statistic he said he hopes is changed by reaching out to mid-Missourians who may not realize that there's still work to be done.

Hensen couldn't quite put into words the attachment he feels toward the Jack-and-Jill style home, but he said the nine-foot ceilings and the oversized windows have always been a favorite part. He said without Rebuild Joplin he doesn't know where he would of gone.

"I look at myself and I cannot believe it. I have to look every time I turn around and feel that yes, it's being fixed. There's people that's living like me today and they might not have any idea how to get help and there is people that need help," Hensen said. "It would have been a condemned place if the city had come in," he said. "If they'd looked at the windows and the plumbing, and the electrical and things in general. They would of condemned it and made me move."

To learn more about volunteering with Rebuild Joplin, call 417-625-3543 or e-mail volunteer@rebuildjoplin.org

More News

Grid
List
COLUMBIA - One man and his dog are wrapping up a cross-country adventure that is far from ordinary. Michael Angelo... More >>
1 day ago Tuesday, January 21 2020 Jan 21, 2020 Tuesday, January 21, 2020 5:05:00 PM CST January 21, 2020 in News
COLUMBIA - The City of Columbia is preparing on Wednesday morning for possible winter weather. A 22 person work crew... More >>
1 day ago Tuesday, January 21 2020 Jan 21, 2020 Tuesday, January 21, 2020 5:00:00 PM CST January 21, 2020 in News
COLUMBIA - New Fire Chief Andy Woody always knew he wanted to be a firefighter because he grew up around... More >>
1 day ago Tuesday, January 21 2020 Jan 21, 2020 Tuesday, January 21, 2020 4:42:00 PM CST January 21, 2020 in News
JEFFERSON CITY - Tuesday marks what Jay Minor is hoping will be the first day of his last legislative session.... More >>
1 day ago Tuesday, January 21 2020 Jan 21, 2020 Tuesday, January 21, 2020 3:29:00 PM CST January 21, 2020 in Continuous News
BOONVILLE - Kelsey Breshears only worked at Pinnacle Hospital for a year, and now she's on the hunt for a... More >>
1 day ago Tuesday, January 21 2020 Jan 21, 2020 Tuesday, January 21, 2020 3:11:00 PM CST January 21, 2020 in News
JEFFERSON CITY - Bobby Bostic wasn't supposed to see freedom after his prison conviction at age 16 - his sentence... More >>
1 day ago Tuesday, January 21 2020 Jan 21, 2020 Tuesday, January 21, 2020 2:31:00 PM CST January 21, 2020 in News
COLUMBIA - The man accused of opening fire inside of Walmart on West Broadway on Friday night threatened to kill... More >>
1 day ago Tuesday, January 21 2020 Jan 21, 2020 Tuesday, January 21, 2020 2:19:00 PM CST January 21, 2020 in News
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A gunman who opened fire outside of a Kansas City nightclub, killing a woman and... More >>
1 day ago Tuesday, January 21 2020 Jan 21, 2020 Tuesday, January 21, 2020 1:10:00 PM CST January 21, 2020 in News
ROCHEPORT - Twenty vehicles crashed on Monday at the I-70 Missouri River Bridge near Rocheport. The Missouri State Highway... More >>
1 day ago Tuesday, January 21 2020 Jan 21, 2020 Tuesday, January 21, 2020 12:45:00 PM CST January 21, 2020 in News
(RENTON, Wash.) - The Boeing 737 Max is officially on hold. The assembly line in Renton, Washington, has stopped... More >>
1 day ago Tuesday, January 21 2020 Jan 21, 2020 Tuesday, January 21, 2020 9:39:00 AM CST January 21, 2020 in News
COLUMBIA - Former Pinnacle Hospital employees have the opportunity to find a new job at the job fair hosted by... More >>
1 day ago Tuesday, January 21 2020 Jan 21, 2020 Tuesday, January 21, 2020 3:38:00 AM CST January 21, 2020 in News
COLUMBIA - Missouri School of Journalism Professor Emeritus Rod Gelatt died Sunday January 19, at his home in Arizona. He... More >>
2 days ago Monday, January 20 2020 Jan 20, 2020 Monday, January 20, 2020 6:14:00 PM CST January 20, 2020 in News
COLUMBIA - The Kansas City Chiefs' AFC Championship victory brought celebration and excitement to fans in Columbia yesterday. Teller's Gallery... More >>
2 days ago Monday, January 20 2020 Jan 20, 2020 Monday, January 20, 2020 2:59:00 PM CST January 20, 2020 in News
ROCHEPORT — As of 3:45 p.m., the westbound lane of I-70 at the Missouri River bridge is now open, according... More >>
2 days ago Monday, January 20 2020 Jan 20, 2020 Monday, January 20, 2020 2:29:00 PM CST January 20, 2020 in News
PULASKI COUNTY - Deputies with the Pulaski County Sheriff's Department rescued a female driver from her car stuck in a... More >>
2 days ago Monday, January 20 2020 Jan 20, 2020 Monday, January 20, 2020 2:08:00 PM CST January 20, 2020 in News
COLUMBIA - The snow and bitter cold did not stop the NAACP's Columbia chapter from remembering Martin Luther King, Jr.... More >>
2 days ago Monday, January 20 2020 Jan 20, 2020 Monday, January 20, 2020 12:15:00 PM CST January 20, 2020 in News
KANSAS CITY - Police say an armed security guard may have shot and killed a man suspected of fatally shooting... More >>
2 days ago Monday, January 20 2020 Jan 20, 2020 Monday, January 20, 2020 8:46:00 AM CST January 20, 2020 in News
FULTON - Maurice Alfred, 33, was arrested by the Fulton Police Department on Sunday and charged with burglary, domestic assault,... More >>
2 days ago Monday, January 20 2020 Jan 20, 2020 Monday, January 20, 2020 8:13:00 AM CST January 20, 2020 in News
Columbia, MO
Broken Clouds 33°
3am 33°
4am 33°
5am 34°
6am 35°