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Joplin Digs Out From Debris 2 Months After Tornado

Ray North, from Moss Point, Miss., takes a break as he works in the heat to salvage metal Wednesday, July 20, 2011, from debris at an apartment complex destroyed by an EF-5 tornado which ripped through Joplin, Mo. nearly two months ago. Work continues to clean up and rebuild the community despite 100 degree plus temperatures.

Ray North, from Moss Point, Miss., takes a break as he works in the heat to salvage metal Wednesday, July 20, 2011, from debris at an apartment complex destroyed by an EF-5 tornado which ripped through Joplin, Mo. nearly two months ago. Work continues to clean up and rebuild the community despite 100 degree plus temperatures.

JOPLIN, Mo. -- Signs of recovery are emerging in Joplin after a deadly May 22 tornado that devastated the city. Now, officials are considering how to improve Joplin while rebuilding it.

More than half of the nearly 2 million cubic yards of debris left by the EF-5 twister has been hauled away. Major retailers along a ravaged commercial corridor have built temporary quarters or entirely new stores.

The real estate market is bustling as displaced homeowners snatch up vacant houses. Meanwhile, city officials and residents are pondering whether to rebuild with stronger construction codes, environmentally friendly designs and public amenities that would modernize Joplin but lead to more costs and delays.

The trade-offs involved are posing some difficult choices in a city where 159 people were killed and more than 7,000 houses destroyed.