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Filling Vacant Lots in Joplin

There are still more than 1,000 vacant lots in the area affected by the 2011 Joplin tornado.
JOPLIN, MO.--- "Anyone that drives through there, it's pretty obvious the visual impact that vacant land can have," said Jonathan Raiche, Joplin Assistant City Planner.

Even visitors passing through Joplin for the first time can tell which areas of the city were affected by the tornado, just by looking at all the empty space. That path is made up of around 1,400 vacant lots.

"When people think about that number 1400, I'm sure one of the things that pops in their mind is 1400 homes, and that's not the case," said Raiche. "There's a couple things that still need to be taken into consideration with that number. One of them being, some of those lots were also undeveloped before the tornado. So, there's a percentage that falls into that category." 

Around 8%, which means around 100 lots, were not developed pre-tornado. Then there are commercial lots, that's another estimated 200. City officials are still working to fill the vacant space, and they say it starts with fixing street and sewer damage.

"We want to bring those back up to a high standard, as high as possible to make sure that people realize that all of the infrastructure support will be there, and will almost be brand new for them to utilize," said Raiche.

They hope the repairs will encourage people to build on the empty lots.

"All of that would contribute to just filling that area physically. And that's the whole goal, is to not have that donut hole or that empty land in the middle of your community," said Raiche.

Officials say recovery activities, like the Home Buyers Assistance Program, will help people build in the tornado zone.
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