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“The bush was blazing, yet it was not consumed.” Exod. 3:2

Presbyterian Disaster Assistance
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For more information:

Pamela Burdine
(800) 728-7228, x5839
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Or write to
100 Witherspoon Street
Louisville, KY 40202

Over 8,000 people attended the walk in Joplin

More than 8,000 people participated on May 11. Photo by Todd Morriss.

Joplin, Missouri – Walk of Unity one year after tornado

On May 22, 2011, an EF-5 tornado ripped through Joplin, MO, leaving a path of destruction and mayhem six miles long and three miles wide.  Houses and buildings were leveled. Trees were ripped from the ground, and those left standing were defoliated. Cars, trucks and large objects were moved blocks and turned upside down.  Devastation was overwhelming.  161 were victims and thousands were left homeless, yet surviving.

May 22, 2012 — a year later — the citizens of Joplin are on the road to recovery.  On the anniversary date, eight members of Presbyterian Disaster Assistance (PDA) joined 8,000 walkers in the 4-mile “Walk of Unity” tracing the path of the tornado.  Planned stops were made at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, to watch the raising and placing of the steeple on the church that had been completely rebuilt from the foundation; at the site of the new high school, to participate in the groundbreaking for the school, which is on the same property but in a new location; and finally ending at the completely remodeled Cunningham Park, for a program remembering the victims, celebrating the survivors and thanking the thousands of volunteers who have brought Joplin to the road of recovery.

PDA participants at the walk

PDA participants in the walk: John Robinson, Rick Turner, Ben Pawley, Kathy Rankin, Gail Farnham, Jim Kirk, Kathy Morriss, Todd Morriss. Photo by Todd Morriss.

PDA has been in Joplin from the beginning.  Days after the tornado, National Response Team (NRT) members were on hand to show support, offer help, and be ministry of presence.  A month later PDA sponsored a Compassion Fatigue Workshop for clergy and church staff.  This has been followed by three more workshops for caregivers, school personnel, and professionals involved in recovery.  PDA also has been involved in the Long Term Recovery Committee in establishing housing venues for volunteers.

It is amazing to see Joplin today.  There is still much rebuilding to do—volunteers are still needed.  Trees have been planted and need to grow.  Healing is still taking place and will for a long time.  But Joplin is a city of HOPE.  They will recover, but will never forget.

Submitted by Kathy Morriss, NRT member


Since the tornado, PDA-related hosting sites have housed 679 volunteers on 42 work teams.  Volunteers are still needed!  Find out more about this and other opportunities around the United States.

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Upcoming Presbyterian Disaster Assistance Events

PHP Advisory Committee

March 30 - April 1, 2014

Presbyterian Hunger Program Advisory Committee meets March 30 - April 1, 2014, in New Orleans, LA, in conjunction with Presbyterian Disaster Assistance Advisory Committee and Self-Development of People Steering Committee.

PDA Advisory Committee

March 30 - April 1, 2014

In a One Great Hour of Sharing Joint Meeting, The PDA Advisory Committee will meet in conjunction with PHP Advisory Committee and the SDOP Steering Committee March 30 – April 1 at the Omni Royal Orleans in New Orleans, Louisiana. Discussions will include the work and vision of each department, long term Presbyterian involvement, issues and generative thinking.  A mission site tour will be made, followed individual committee meetings, and PHP will visit grant partner, Latino Farmer’s Cooperative of Louisiana.

PDA Advisory Committee

Oct. 8 - 10, 2014

PDA Advisory Committee meets October 8–10 in Louisville.

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