A decade after deadly tornado in Joplin, Missouri – reflecting on response, continuing support
Two American Family agency owners reflect on how the storm affected their customers and community.
On May 22, 2011, the deadliest tornado recorded on U.S. soil touched down in Joplin, Missouri. The storm’s winds reached 200-miles-per-hour, ripping through the city and destroying entire neighborhoods.
The tornado touched down at 5:41 p.m. near the southwest edge of Joplin and remained on the ground for close to 30 minutes, with tragic consequences: 161 people died, 1,150 people were injured and 1,308 family pets perished. Approximately 7,828 homes were damaged or destroyed, 18,000 cars were totaled and 500 businesses were damaged, impacting roughly 5,000 jobs.
Even though their community faced unimaginable heartbreak and loss, Joplin residents – and all those who traveled from near and far to help them recover – were forever bonded through shared experiences and a desire to rebuild stronger. Scores of American Family claim employees and agency owners responded to help customers, witnessing the devastation first-hand.
Steve Haskins, an American Family agency owner who has an office in Joplin, described how the company’s claims teams assisted in the immediate aftermath, “They navigated unrecognizable streets that no longer had signs or residence numbers to determine the right place to assess for damage and to deliver checks.” Agency owners and employees alike helped displaced residents find places to stay and assisted customers who were filing claims.
American Family is still committed to the people of Joplin. A good example of this commitment is agency owner Bob Brown, who remains vigilant in his efforts to support this city.
“For the past 10 years, I’ve been part of the events committee to raise funds for Joplin by hosting the annual Joplin Memorial Run. Our motto is,’ Run, Remember and Rebuild,’” said Brown. “This year, the 10th anniversary event is exactly 10 years after the tornado, May 22, 2021. It’s my part of continuing the spirit of helping a brother or a sister in times of need.”
More than $250,000 has been raised through the run. Proceeds have helped pay for:
- Materials to rebuild homes and businesses.
- Equipment for an autism center.
- Repairs to a local theater.
- Upkeep to the Humane Society.
- Mental health resources for children experiencing traumatic events
On Saturday, May 22, at 5:41 p.m., at the same time and place where the tornado first touched, members of the Joplin community gathered for a moment of silence in remembrance of the disaster. This summer, a bench will be erected in memory of those who lost their life that day.
About the American Family Insurance group
Based in Madison, Wisconsin, American Family Insurance has been serving customers since 1927. We inspire, protect and restore dreams through our insurance products, exceptional service from our agency owners and employees, community investment and creative partnerships to address societal challenges. We act on our belief in diversity and inclusion by constantly evolving to meet customer needs and preferences. American Family Insurance group is the nation’s 13th-largest property/casualty insurance group, ranking No. 254 on the Fortune 500 list. The group sells American Family-brand products, primarily through exclusive agency owners in 19 states. The American Family Insurance group also includes CONNECT, powered by American Family Insurance, The General, Homesite and Main Street America. Across these companies the group has more than 13,500 employees nationwide.