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Organizations reflect on three years of recovery efforts on the anniversary of the tornado that hit Jefferson City

COLUMBIA, Mo. (KMIZ)

Sunday marks three years since a tornado touched down in Jefferson City in 2019 causing destruction to hundreds of homes and several businesses.

The EF3 tornado hit Jefferson City on May 22, 2019 and for many, it's hard to forget the tornado that tore through parts of the city.

"I just remember everyone helping each other and now it's great to see how many things have come back and how many things have been rebuilt," said Jefferson City Mayor, Carrie Tergin.

The tornado's destruction left hundreds without a home and three years later on the anniversary, many reflect on how far the community has come in rebuilding the city.

"We were told by state and federal officials that it would really be three to five years before we would really be over this hurtle and here we are at this three year mark and we only have three people that we are helping with the long term recovery committee," said Captain Justin Windell with The Salvation Army of Jefferson City.

When the tornado hit the city, The Salvation Army of Jefferson City started its long term recovery program.

"It's just a group of agencies that come together to try to help those people or individuals that may have fallen through the cracks in other ways of assistance," Captain Windell said.

Many of the homes hit were in a low income areas.

"We already had an affordable housing crisis the tornado just ripped that band-aid off and made more people aware of it," said Susan Cook-Williams, Executive Director of River City Habitat for Humanity.

The Salvation Army Jefferson City's Long Term Recovery Committee is a group of agencies and community leaders who have joined together to help those who have fallen through the cracks of normal assistance programs. The Salvation Army has been a part of this group since its creation when it was originally a short term group that dealt with the immediate aftermath of the tornado.

The Salvation Army's homeless shelter and cot program also helps those who have been affected by the housing shortage that was made worse by the tornado and now the pandemic.

After the tornado the salvations family rooms are consistently in use.

While programs like The Salvations Army have helped many recover, there is still work to be done.

"We've only made a dent right, and we still need the community to rally behind us as we continue to build affordable homes," Cook-Williams said.

Habitat for Humanity has spent the past three years rebuilding homes.

Jackson Street is one of the hardest hit streets. Habitat for Humanity is working to rebuild its eighth house on Jackson street.

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Leila Mitchell

Leila is a Penn State graduate who started with KMIZ in March 2021. She studied journalism and criminal justice in college.

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