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Communication group creates website to centralize anniversary information
City and area communicators have pulled their resources and information regarding the one-year anniversary of the May 22, 2011 tornado into a centralized website, www.joplintornadoanniversary.com.

The site features a calendar of events noting various activities commemorating the anniversary, as well as news releases and fact sheets from organizations involved in the recovery efforts of Joplin.

“We pulled together many of the key communicators that have been distributing information throughout this past year to provide a kind of one-stop shop for anniversary-related questions,” said Lynn Onstot, Public Information Officer for the City. “There are a lot of events planned by numerous groups and organizations that people want to know about and attend. This site will help share that information.”

Onstot also noted that the site should help with general inquires that many of the communicators have received from international and national media along with the local and regional reporters, university researchers, and general public.

“Our community has had hundreds of inquiries from a wide variety of groups and individuals because this disaster has many different angles,” said Onstot. “From weather-related questions, emergency response, rebuilding and community outreach – all of these have much depth and bring many questions and areas to study. We’ve included community and business fact sheets along with recovery and rebuilding statistics on the site to help address some of these.”

Businesses and organizations may link to the site to share information with their audiences as well. The anniversary site is designed as a "splash site" and will only be maintained through May 31. After that, it will be available for archive purposes. It was developed and is hosted by the Department of Web Services of Missouri Southern State University in Joplin. Several members from MSSU are part of the communications group working to distribute information about the recovery efforts and anniversary.

This group of communicators is not new in its formation. Shortly after the disaster last year, the group came together to share their updates, answer questions, brainstorm on best practices, and provide support to each other about unique challenges they faced due to the tornado.

“This is our version of a ‘Joint Information Center’” said Onstot. “In emergency management following a disaster, JICs are formed to offer communication resources, but often representatives are centrally located. In our case, we still work out of our own offices, and utilize this great network we’ve established to help reach out to our audiences. It’s a talented group and provides an abundance of support and resources.”

In addition to the website, the JIC is working on a one-year anniversary press kit that encompasses much of this information, as well as other resources for the news media.