Today is the one year anniversary of the powerful tornado that devastated a large swath of Joplin, MO. I was in Joplin for a job last week. I stopped and took a few photographs on my way back to the airport. I was surprised by how much some areas still, after a year, looked in shambles, while some buildings that were completely destroyed, like big box stores, looked as if they were, well, brand new.
While driving around, at first I thought to focus on things that had been destroyed, but it took maybe 5 minutes to occur to me that that picture had been made many times in the last year. Instead I began looking for evidence of renewal. It also happened to be an absolutely gorgeous day. I met Marti Goebel taking her two daughters to the school bus stop. Marti, who had been renting before the tornando, told me that if it hadn’t been for the tornado she wouldn’t have been able to buy a home. Habitat for Humanity helped her build her home in the devastated area. Her home and the one across the street, sit surrounded by empty foundations as far as the eye can see. Spending just two days there, meeting the few people that I met, I understood that life was harder. I knew so many people had lost their homes and for some, much more. But as the anniversary of the tornado approached, they weren’t letting on. I thought these people are determined to rebuild.
Thank you to TIME for running the top image in this week’s magazine as well as a gallery on Lightbox.