Oklahoma Volunteers Help Build New Homes For Joplin Tornado Victims

Sunday, October 30th 2011, 10:04 pm
By: News On 6

Emily Baucum, News on 6

JOPLIN, Missouri -- Nearly six months after an EF-5 tornado devastated Joplin, neighborhoods are still empty fields. Volunteers from Oklahoma are working hard to turn those fields into homes.

This neighborhood bore the brunt of the tornado's fury. Homes were reduced to matchsticks. Now, you hear the signs of hammering once again as Tulsa's and Joplin's Habitat for Humanity work together to build ten homes.

Steve Stokes said he and his mother were helpless as the family home blew away.

"The only thing that kept us from blowing away was a heavy wall that was holding us down. Everything else was totally gone," said Stokes. "You just put one foot in front of the other. That's the only thing you can do."

And it's hard to do when you're living in a one-room garage apartment.

"My mom is sleeping on a mattress on a floor. I'm sleeping on a couch," Stokes said.

He watched his world collapse.

Finally, homes are rising all around him. Just 24 hours ago, these homes were concrete slabs.

"This is going to be the bathroom. This is going to be the bedroom," Stokes said.

Now, he's walking through the rooms.

"I knew I could help out some. I'm not very good at hammering anything but I can hold a ladder," said Connie Potter, a volunteer from Tulsa.

Connie Potter, who owns a web company in Tulsa, said the tornado touched her family too.

"My brother is receiving gifts like this. They lost the roof but didn't lose the walls," Potter said.

She's paying it forward, volunteering her time to help our neighbors up the turnpike.

"There's still stuff hanging from the trees. There's so much work to be done to build this city back to where it can grow again," Potter said.

And together, Oklahoma's own are making Stokes' dream of a new home a reality.

"Tomorrow we're getting shingles. It's amazing they can get this done so fast," Stokes said.

Homeowners were told they will get the keys to their new houses by November 19.