(Joplin, MO) -- Since May 22nd, 2011, the city of Joplin has issued nearly 6,000 building permits. But thousands are still waiting for a permanent place to call home -- including Susan Irish.
"May 22nd, I was outside on my front porch," remembers Susan. "Smoking," she laughs. One year ago, and just two blocks from Joplin High School, Susan's life was about to change.
"I heard a train. I thought it was a train. But then I thought, 'This train is going on too long.' I looked up, the sky went black, I yelled to my dog, 'Rufus, we've gotta get to the basement.'"
The two never made it to the basement.
"He shook. I shook. We prayed. IIt seemed like forever."
Susan and her dog survived, but her home was heavily damaged. Still, she wasn't about to pack up and leave the home her family built back in the 1940's.
"This is grandma's house," she insists, "She had 12 grandchildren and 20 great-grandchildren. And the kids loved grandma's house."
The home was insured, but Susan lost most of that money after complications with two construction crews.
"The last year was hell. I just did not know where to go, or what to do."
She finally got ahold of Rebuild Joplin, to help rebuild grandma's house.
"Our heart's break for those people," says Kate Massey, the Director of Development for Rebuild Joplin. "And that's why we're here. We don't feel like we're doing anything extraordinary, we feel like this is what a community is for, to pick up and help our neighbors."
Rebuild Joplin is made up of volunteers from across the country.
"This is a group from Michigan," says Massey. "They drove 14 hours to be with us this week. We've had people from every state except Alaska and Hawaii so far."
It works with community partners and national organizations like AmeriCorp. More than 125,000 volunteers registered with the city.
"It brings tears to your eyes," says Massey, "To realize 11 months later, how far we've come in a short amount of time, but it's felt like a really long year."
Rebuild Joplin has brought home five families so far in 2012. Its goal is 100 by the end of this year. Right now, it's working on 18 houses, including grandma's house, which should be a home again by June.
"This is grandma's house," says Susan again. "I just wish she could see it. The way it is, it's so much better than it has been for so many years. She'd be so pleased. she would be pleased. I'm very blessed."
To hear more of Susan's story, or to help the rebuilding effort, visit http://www.RebuildJoplin.org