JOPLIN, Mo., Aug. 17 (UPI) — Just three months after a powerful tornado leveled one-third of the city, Wednesday was the first day of public school in Joplin, Mo.
Teachers warmly welcomed hundreds of students back to classes at Stapleton Elementary and South Middle School, the Joplin Globe reported. Although neither building was damaged by the F-5 magnitude twister, many homes and businesses in the surrounding community were devastated.
Makeshift facilities replaced 10 Joplin schools that were damaged or destroyed 55 days earlier and most of the rubble has been cleared away.
Teachers, students and a school secretary at South Middle School were left homeless, but the city made good on a promise to reopen school on time.
The May 22 storm killed 160 people and displaced thousands of residents who are still trying to return their lives to normal. The New York Times said officials estimate the damages at $151 million.
School Superintendent C.J. Huff said Joplin’s educators did not want to lose their community or its families.