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The Butterfly People of Joplin were creatures of unknown origin who touched down from the sky to both save those who were trapped in debris, and collect the dead after the infamous EF5 Joplin Tornado ravaged the city on May 22nd, 2011. Past this date, no further sightings have been recorded.

Sightings of the creatures and descriptions vary to some degree, however, local people are of the collective opinion that they meant good to the area.

The world had gotten a glimpse of the tragedy that happened in Joplin. But the collective sightings and memories still remain today.


Story of the Butterfly People[]

After the destruction, after the wind died down, the children who survived the storm began telling these family members, friends, and relatives what they had seen.

Some said that the butterfly people protected them during the storm.

There are many versions of the story, but the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that there were two general accounts of the sightings. The basis for both accounts is the same.

The tornado sped toward the child and parent, but the child saw a "butterfly person" hovering over them and protecting them. In both stories, the parent and child escaped unscathed.

As the reports spread, more and more children came forward and said they too had seen the butterfly people. Some say they believed the butterfly people were angels. Others called her an indescribable being.

In the December before the storm, the muralist Dave Loewenstein traveled to Joplin to scout out locations for his next project.

After the tornado, Loewenstein had no idea what would become of the idea.

In June of that year, he returned to Joplin to visit the Cultural Commission to see what the future holds for the community mural project's new location.

The artist first heard about Butterfly People at a town meeting held to brainstorm ideas for the mural.

More than 200 volunteers worked with Loewenstein and a mural designer to create the scene depicted on the side of Dixie's printing of him halfway between downtown and the center of the tornado's destruction.

200 of these volunteers were local children from the community.

Loewenstein had <who?> paint the painting that inspired the project.

Although it was not originally intended to include the Butterfly People story, the artist soon realized that many children were drawing them.

Loewenstein was skeptical about including the butterfly people but says they represent "transformation", the regeneration of the city.

The mural is titled "Butterfly Effect" and Loewenstein told the Post-Dispatch that he hopes to inspire people to "do a good job."

Fifteen local artists and members of the community also participated in the creation of the mural. Assistant muralist Amber Hansen says the project will act as an outlet for those affected to share their feelings and experiences.

The mural is the first of what the Joplin Area Chamber of Commerce's Committee on Cultural Affairs wants to see, more community-based murals.

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