On May 22, 2011, the city of Joplin, Missouri, was devastated by a catastrophic EF5 multiple vortex tornado. Estimated wind speed peaked at 225 to 250 miles per hour. The tornado caused estimated damages of $2.8 billion, killed 161 people, and injured nearly 1,000 more. Nearly 7,000 homes were destroyed, and many more were damaged. This storm ranks as one of Missouri’s and America’s deadliest tornados and is the costliest single tornado in U.S. history. The cost to rebuild Joplin could reach $3 billion.
These Landsat images show the area of Joplin, Missouri, on May 7, 2011, on June 8, 2011, after the tornado touched down, and again recently on May 8, 2012. The June 2011 image shows the track taken by the tornado through the city. One year later, the path can still be seen, but work continues to restore the damaged community, with more than 760,000 hours of service being dedicated to rebuilding the city. A Day of Unity memorial walk is planned on May 22, 2012, to observe the first anniversary of the deadly twister.
The nearly 40-year archive of Landsat imagery proves useful to create a story of the land changes over time. Imagery is useful for emergency coordinators and city leaders to make informed decisions for the futures of their communities.