7 months later: Joplin residents prepare for Christmas

JOPLIN, Mo. - Seven months after an EF5 tornado destroyed almost a third of their city, residents in Joplin are trying to make this Christmas holiday feel as normal as possible.

Glistening Christmas lights and decorations line Main Street in downtown.

A few block away, where the twister actually hit, it's the same story, though on a much smaller scale.

Several neighborhood trees, which are among the few structures that somehow survived, are decorated with Christmas lights.  So are a few of the new homes that have been built, including one belonging to Emily Henson.

"Just right across the street, there's people, they're building right now and just down the road," said Henson. "There's a Rebuild Joplin and they've got a house built for the family just before the holidays. It's awesome to see everyone wanting to come back."

Henson, her three sons, and their father moved into the home that volunteers helped to build last month.

"Really, without this house, we wouldn't have a Christmas," said Henson.

Meanwhile across town, very few of the FEMA trailers have been decorated for Christmas.

One of the few that has been decorated, belongs to Rhonda Vene.

"We just want it to be normal, back to where it was," said Vene. "We don't want to dwell on the bad things that happened."

Vene said living in the FEMA trailer park the last few months has not been easy.

"We just kind of stay to ourselves. There's been a lot of trouble out here," said Vene.

Though her home was destroyed in the twister, Vene said this Christmas her family will focus on the things that truly matter, each other.

"We're the lucky ones. We didn't lose anything we can't replace," said Vene.

Victims 2NEWS spoke with on Thursday night said they hope the rest of the world doesn't forget Joplin's ongoing struggle.

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