Missouri Group Works to Rebuild Tornado Victims' Hope

5 years 11 months 2 weeks ago Wednesday, June 05 2013 Jun 5, 2013 Wednesday, June 05, 2013 8:38:00 PM CDT June 05, 2013 in News
By: Jen Lask
loading

MOORE, Okla. - The St. Lou Crew never knew Rick Jones.

Members never saw the meticulous effort he put into his koi pond. They never met his family. They never saw his body after he tried to hide in his bathtub from a devastating tornado that hit Moore on May 27. 

All they saw were his friends, devastated by their loss. And that was all that mattered. 

"His sister was coming Sunday and they wanted it to be as clean as possible because he did pass away," Debbie Dillon said. "They knew it was going to be emotional for her. I guess it was one of his good friends that came and said, 'You know, there's a couple things we want to get out of the rubble.'"

The St. Lou Crew came together in 2011, when an EF-5 tornado devastated the community of Joplin. 

"It wasn't a church group or anything like that," Craig Wicker, one of the leaders of the group, said. "It was just a beer-drinking group of friends who got together to help out."

Over the course of the next two years, the crew traveled to Joplin several times, and also helped with relief efforts in Harrisburg, Ill., following a deadly tornado there. When an EF-5 tornado hit Moore in late May, killing 24 people, the group packed up once again. 

"It's very emotional," Dillon said. "But it's also very rewarding knowing you get to hang out with a great group of friends and do good things."

Piles of debris lined the streets of the neighborhood. Homes were ripped off of their foundations, leaving just concrete slabs on the ground. Tarps covered holes in the roofs of homes that weren't completely destroyed. The St. Lou Crew joined hundreds of other volunteers in helping to rebuild the community. 

But it wasn't just about physically rebuilding Moore. It was about rebuilding hope. 

A fence turned into a makeshift memorial had become home to dozens of stuffed animals, toys and messages of hope following the May tornado. But when the group returned to Moore after the second storm Friday, ready to continue its relief efforts, members found stuffed animals strewn across the ground, some face down in mud.

The group immediately began picking up the tributes to the seven children lost at Plaza Towers elementary school.

"Kids come here everyday to see their friends' memorials," Kylie Hirth, another member of the group, explained. "We didn't want them to come back and see everything lying on the ground."

"When other volunteers saw what we were doing, they all came over to help," Wicker said. "By the end of the morning, it was put back together." 

By mid-afternoon Saturday, as children quietly stood in front of the memorial, one would never know that the memorial had been a pile of muddy toys merely hours earlier.

"It's very emotional, especially when you know they've passed away," Dillon said, choking up. "Especially when you see children's items. It really touches your heart, especially if you're a grandma like I am."

After a full weekend in Moore, the St. Lou Crew went back to the place where it all began: Joplin.

"The amazing thing is it's still not rebuilt. You drive around and there's still debris, and that's two years later," Wicker said. "So it's going to take a couple years for Moore, but if you go back even in a month, it'll start to look different."

Even after returning home from Moore, the St. Lou Crew wasn't quite done yet. The group already posted on its Facebook page asking to help yet another community: its very own hometown of St. Louis. 

"People have to understand that we have to help each other," Dillon concluded. "Whether it's donations or coming down and seeing what we can do, we have to help each other."

More News

Grid
List
COLUMBIA - Twenty years after the Columbine High School shooting, many parents have only tepid confidence in school safety, according... More >>
2 hours ago Saturday, May 25 2019 May 25, 2019 Saturday, May 25, 2019 3:16:00 PM CDT May 25, 2019 in News
JEFFERSON CITY - The Jefferson City Police Department released an official request for volunteers Saturday morning following Wednesday's EF-3 tornado.... More >>
3 hours ago Saturday, May 25 2019 May 25, 2019 Saturday, May 25, 2019 1:56:00 PM CDT May 25, 2019 in News
JEFFERSON CITY - The Jefferson City Police Department is investigating two incidents of alleged looting involving three individuals Friday afternoon... More >>
4 hours ago Saturday, May 25 2019 May 25, 2019 Saturday, May 25, 2019 1:18:00 PM CDT May 25, 2019 in News
JEFFERSON CITY - Neighbors in Jefferson City were already watching the Missouri River rise, but no one planned on an... More >>
18 hours ago Friday, May 24 2019 May 24, 2019 Friday, May 24, 2019 11:42:00 PM CDT May 24, 2019 in News
COLUMBIA - According to the Callaway County Sheriff's Office, water was over the runways at Jefferson City Airport in Callaway... More >>
21 hours ago Friday, May 24 2019 May 24, 2019 Friday, May 24, 2019 8:09:00 PM CDT May 24, 2019 in Coverage From Callaway
JEFFERSON CITY - Insurance companies will inspect and process claims for damaged homes over the weekend. Wednesday night's tornado badly... More >>
23 hours ago Friday, May 24 2019 May 24, 2019 Friday, May 24, 2019 6:48:00 PM CDT May 24, 2019 in Continuous News
COLUMBIA - A man involved in a car crash on I-70 May 16 has died from his injuries. William... More >>
23 hours ago Friday, May 24 2019 May 24, 2019 Friday, May 24, 2019 6:31:00 PM CDT May 24, 2019 in News
BOONE COUNTY - The Missouri River has completely overflowed its banks near the end of South Route N. near Ashland.... More >>
23 hours ago Friday, May 24 2019 May 24, 2019 Friday, May 24, 2019 6:16:00 PM CDT May 24, 2019 in News
JEFFERSON CITY - Jefferson City is offering instructions on how to get rid of the debris created by Wednesday's tornado.... More >>
1 day ago Friday, May 24 2019 May 24, 2019 Friday, May 24, 2019 5:08:00 PM CDT May 24, 2019 in News
JEFFERSON CITY - Insurance agents are warning people hit by Wednesday's tornado to be careful about signing repair contracts. ... More >>
1 day ago Friday, May 24 2019 May 24, 2019 Friday, May 24, 2019 3:26:00 PM CDT May 24, 2019 in News
JEFFERSON CITY – Volunteers from all over Jefferson City are working to help those affected by the tornado. The... More >>
1 day ago Friday, May 24 2019 May 24, 2019 Friday, May 24, 2019 2:37:00 PM CDT May 24, 2019 in Top Stories
JEFFERSON CITY - Members from House of Refuge are keeping their faith after Wednesday's tornado completely destroyed their church. ... More >>
1 day ago Friday, May 24 2019 May 24, 2019 Friday, May 24, 2019 1:37:00 PM CDT May 24, 2019 in Top Stories
ROCHEPORT - The 11th annual Pedaler's Jamboree bike ride got a good start Friday, and Missouri River levels are falling.... More >>
1 day ago Friday, May 24 2019 May 24, 2019 Friday, May 24, 2019 10:47:00 AM CDT May 24, 2019 in News
JEFFERSON CITY (AP) — Missouri Gov. Mike Parson on Friday signed a bill that bans abortions on or beyond the... More >>
1 day ago Friday, May 24 2019 May 24, 2019 Friday, May 24, 2019 10:32:00 AM CDT May 24, 2019 in News
JEFFERSON CITY - Missouri Task Force 1 has deactivated from Jefferson City after an EF-3 tornado swept through the area... More >>
1 day ago Friday, May 24 2019 May 24, 2019 Friday, May 24, 2019 9:11:00 AM CDT May 24, 2019 in News
JEFFERSON CITY - As Jefferson City continues to clean up from the tornado on Wednesday night, it still has to... More >>
1 day ago Friday, May 24 2019 May 24, 2019 Friday, May 24, 2019 12:51:00 AM CDT May 24, 2019 in News
JEFFERSON CITY- During the chaos of the tornado in Jefferson City, one cheerleading and "American Ninja Warrior" gym got torn... More >>
1 day ago Friday, May 24 2019 May 24, 2019 Friday, May 24, 2019 12:15:00 AM CDT May 24, 2019 in News
JEFFERSON CITY - Volunteers from around Missouri came out to help with the disaster that Wednesday night's EF-3 tornado brought... More >>
1 day ago Thursday, May 23 2019 May 23, 2019 Thursday, May 23, 2019 11:52:00 PM CDT May 23, 2019 in News
Columbia, MO
Broken Clouds 86°
6pm 82°
7pm 81°
8pm 80°
9pm 78°