JOPLIN, Mo. -

With neighborhoods in Joplin filling back up with new homes, it's hard to imagine what the area looked like right after the May 22, 2011 tornado.  Businesses have also been rebuilding in the two and half years since the storm.

 

At Cupcakes by Liz, the colorful treats are as much art as desert.  You're almost afraid to mess it up by taking a bite.

 

“I think people do get happy when they come here- I would hope so,” stated Liz Easton, owner of Cupcakes by Liz on Main St.

 

Liz had to rebuild both her business and home after the tornado

 

“When we built this I was kind of out of my mind and don't know- just make it pretty and happy. I think he did well,” Liz explained.

 

Since then she's watched the neighborhoods all around her rise again.  It's progress that's restoring buildings as well as hope.

 

“The houses are coming back, the trees are smaller. But they are turning. And the beauty is coming back.” said Liz.

 

Things are rebounding so well, and so fast, that a group helping oversee the recovery says its work is done.

 

The Joplin Area Long Term Recovery committee helped repair or rebuild 1,300 homes, and helped provide mental health services for thousands of people.

 

The group estimated it would take 5 years to accomplish its mission.   Now- just two and a half years later, the group is disbanding.

 

“All of those cases that are related to the tornado have been taken care of, so it is our time to step down now,” stated Jay St. Clair, volunteer coordinator with the Joplin Area Long Term Recovery Committee.

Most of the major retail centers in Joplin have been rebuilt Currently, the larges construction projects underway are on several Joplin schools, and the new Mercy Hospital.