"We're not victims, we're victors" - KOAM TV 7

"We're not victims, we're victors" - Joplin's City manager discusses his new book


Nearly everyone who experienced last year's tornado probably has enough memories to write a book about their experiences.

But a new book written by Joplin City Manager Mark Rohr talks about the hurts and strengths of a leader during that time.

"We were on such a roll and had made so many improvements to Joplin and we were in such a positive situation when the storm hit," says Rohr.  "And (now), you go out and look, and a third of your city is gone."

Rohr says he was approached by some people to write a book about what he remembers of the disaster and aftermath.  Rohr describes emotional stories of being involved in recovery and rebuilding efforts.

He says "Joplin: The Miracle of the Human Spirit" details, until now, what's been untold.

"Mitch (Randles), the fire chief and I, we out on a rescue.  He's the one that called me at home to tell me about the storm and I met him on Main Street.  And we tried to wind our way through the storm to see the extent of the damage and we came across a structure that had collapsed and a lady asked us to come help.  And we saw a lot of different things that night."

After the storm, 161 people were dead.  Those alive needed to hear the current state of Joplin and what's next.

"When we would have our staff meetings, no one wanted to come back and say 'you can't do that'.  It was always 'how do we get around whatever impediment or obstacle that we're faced?'"

FEMA officials told Rohr federal help would only be as good as what's already in Joplin, the strength of the survivors.

"It was the deadliest tornado in this country in the last 65 years now.  And I like to think, and I've heard comments to this affect from other people throughout the country, that the city of Joplin and the citizens of Joplin have established the national standard for disaster response."

Part of the proceeds from sales will go towards a new memorial in Joplin.

"One of the causes that I'm particularly fond of is the effort that's being advanced for the volunteer memorial.  I'd like to do what I can because I think we owe that for all the help we've gotten., and I would like to be in a position to assist in some degree in that, and even other areas, for that matter."

Rohr's book on the response after May 22 is a continuing story he says is a part of city, state, and the country's history.

"That's why we did it, is to try to provide some help to other people."

Officials from Branson, Missouri, and parts of Alabama and Oklahoma are just a few of those who have already looked to Joplin for strength.

"We're not victims.  We're victors."

To learn more about Joplin City Manager Mark Rohr's book, "Joplin: The Miracle of the Human Spirit", visit Amazon or Barnes & Noble.  The book will also be on sale at Joplin's next Third Thursday event.

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