One year ago, a massive EF-5 tornado tore through Joplin, Missouri, killing more than 160 people and changing the city forever. In the weeks after the tornado hit, HLN visited Joplin and -- amid untold devastation -- found people determined to stay and rebuild their lives in the city they call home. Now, a year later, HLN returns to Joplin to tell the next chapter in this story of perseverance, courage and resolve.
Robin Meade and Clark Howard lead HLN’s one-year anniversary coverage on air and online. "I'm someone who is all too familiar with the regularity of the tornado siren," says Meade, who grew up in the Midwest. "Joplin could be 'my town' for any one of us."
"Many times news brings you the impact of the devastation," she says, "But we're not always able to be there later when a town emerges and rebuilds. I think our viewers want to see when a town like Joplin turns the corner and makes an important statement about itself and its people. I'm happy we will get to highlight how this town is rising again."
Those highlights will include interviews and updates from Operation Photo Rescue, Habitat for Humanity, the Missouri National Guard and the Norton Family which has turned the loss of one of their own into huge gains for their community.
Will Norton was killed on the way home from high school graduation when the tornado ripped him from his Hummer. With this year's graduation scheduled for after the anniversary of the tornado, Meade says, "I think about how strange and triumphant, and even eerie it will be for the graduating class to go to commencement next week, the same program after which tornadoes roared through and took the lives of some in the class of 2011."
"I know our viewers, many of whom live in smaller cities and towns, already identify with Joplin and its people," says Meade. "But I thank that emotional connection will deepen as we see what they've had to do in the year since tornadoes changed so many lives."