How Many People Died in the Joplin Tornado?

February 3, 2024

The number of people who died in the joplin tornado varies widely depending on the source and time frame. In fact, the occurrence of multiple sources and reports with differing fatality totals can be very frustrating for researchers.

The tornado began in the southern part of the city as an EF-2 or EF-3 but quickly intensified as it moved northward into heavily populated areas, reaching EF-5 status by the time it reached South Schifferdecker Avenue. The twister left a path three-quarters of a mile wide and 14 miles long, with a significant portion of the community devastated beyond repair.

In the days immediately after the tornado, the community came together to begin the recovery effort, from local citizens pitching in at cleanup and relief efforts to donations of money, food, clothing, water, blankets and countless other items. Within a year, the Community Foundation of Southwest Missouri distributed over $39 million to support short- and long-term rebuilding efforts in Joplin. Private donors contributed as well, from the funds raised by children's lemonade stands to a donation of $1 million from celebrity couple Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie.

A common theme that emerged during the post-tornado recovery efforts was the importance of proper storm preparedness and the need for residents to construct homes with safe rooms, which would provide protection from strong winds in the event of a tornado. However, the cost of such shelters is prohibitive for many households and Joplin's soil conditions are ill-suited to building basements that could resist severe tornado damage. This study analyzed spatial data from the City of Joplin and FEMA and used a geographic information system to break down the tornado's path into four different damage zones: catastrophic, extensive, moderate, and limited.

Mission

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