Marking the one-year anniversary of the Joplin tornado, I’ve live today for a special broadcast in the decimated Missouri city as we build a Habitat for Humanity home during a special day of reconstruction and healing.
Last year at this time, I was here in the aftermath of the tornado covering the damage for HLN TV. As I heard people’s stories one by one, I felt a burst of frustration at the loss of life and property, and so I made the pledge to return and sponsor a Habitat home.
When I first came up with the idea, I wasn’t sure how it would be received. I had no radio affiliate in Joplin. So I reached out to KRMG, my Tulsa affiliate, where I’ve been on the air for 14 years. Program Director Drew Anderssen jumped all over the idea, pledging support and resources for Joplin’s KZRG in the process.
Tulsa is located about an hour and a half away from Joplin, but both cities are firmly in Tornado Alley. Little wonder then that the people of Tulsa identified with Joplin; the Tulsa chapter of Habitat for Humanity is building 10 homes here in Joplin.
About six weeks ago, I called Drew and said, “You’ve really gotten behind the Joplin build. Let’s do more. How about if we do a Habitat build in Tulsa?” So we hatched the Tulsa build idea too, which we did on Saturday, May 19. I put up half the cash ($35,000) and KRMG listeners put up the other half ($35,000) of the sponsor fee for that one.
As for Joplin, this build will take a while. But this town is coming back and, as the walls go up, hope returns to the citizens of Joplin.