Joplin’s Recovery from 2011 Tornado Named Public Works Project of the Year

Image Credit: Olsson

The massive public infrastructure recovery following the devastating Joplin tornado one decade ago has been recognized as a Project of the Year by the American Public Works Association (APWA).

Elected officials for the City of Joplin, Missouri, learned of the APWA award on May 17, 2021 during a presentation by Olsson, the engineering and design firm that served as the primary consultant for the $56.7 million City of Joplin Green Area CDBG-DR Infrastructure Revitalization. Joplin received the award for disaster or emergency construction and repair in the $25 million – $75 million category.

The May 22, 2011, tornado registered winds exceeding 200 mph and blew a path of destruction through Joplin that took 161 lives and left $2.8 billion in damage. The storm ranks as the costliest, most deadly single tornado since the National Weather Service began keeping records in 1950.

The Green Area infrastructure recovery effort involved the design and replacement of streetscapes, sidewalks, recreational trails, parks, stormwater systems and sanitary sewers in some of the city’s primary commercial corridors and neighborhoods. Included in the projects were 40 miles of streets, 20 miles of sidewalks and flood mitigation. D&E Plumbing and Heating was recognized as the primary contractor for the projects.

Much of the funding was derived from the federal Community Development Block Grant-Disaster Recovery program (CDBG-DR). The work was scoped, designed, bid and completed between August 2014 and October 2020. The projects were finished on time and under budget, which allowed additional work on the storm damage zone to be done, said Jack Schaller, Olsson’s key leader throughout the recovery effort.

“The award exemplifies what happens when a collaborative process involves everyone working for the same goal,” Schaller said. “We worked with almost every department of the city on these projects, making this honor something that was truly earned by the City of Joplin. On this week of the 10-year anniversary of the tornado, it is humbling to be recognized for how far we’ve come from one of the darkest days in Joplin’s history.”

Also attending Monday’s presentation from Olsson were Clayton Cristy, general civil team leader for the recovery effort, and John S. Olsson, executive vice president of consulting services.

“Making a positive difference for communities is a major reason many of us get into the engineering profession,” Olsson said. “Our firm has been absolutely privileged to be part of the team that helped Joplin recover from this tragedy and build back better.”

The project also has received national and state recognition from the American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC) and was named a Project of Distinction in Olsson’s annual awards program.

Olsson is a nationally recognized firm made up of people who craft expert solutions that improve communities. The firm offers consulting services in planning and design, engineering, field services, environmental and technology. For more information, go to

The APWA is a 30,000-member organization that provides educational, networking and advocacy opportunities for public works professionals throughout North America. For more information, go to


Joe Duggan, Senior Coordinator / Communications

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