Cleaning up the day after Christmas took on a completely different meaning in Missouri this past December. One of the largest and most-costly winter floods in history damaged or destroyed over 7000 structures in St Louis County alone, only one of the 33 counties in Missouri devastated by record river crests following two months of heavy rainfall, three times the average for November and December.

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McDonald County representatives pose with the beautiful mural that was the result of the Art Feeds project that helped the children of Noel come together to heal after the 2015 Christmas floods. Noel, in southwest Missouri’s McDonald County, sustained over $1.2 million in damages with 85 homes and 27 businesses damaged or destroyed.

Art Feeds received a grant of $3500 to provide a therapeutic mural curriculum to 600 Noel elementary students to aid in their recovery process and mental and emotional wellness. Noel, in southwest Missouri’s McDonald County, sustained over $1.2 million in damages with 85 homes and 27 businesses damaged or destroyed.

McDonald County has one of the most diverse populations in the state, with a majority of the population from Mexico, Somalia, Sudan, Micronesia, Kenya, Laos, Myanmar, and Ethiopia. Thirteen languages are spoken in their school district. Noel students participated in the production of a collaborative mural (pictured above) using storytelling webs to illustrate how every voice matters, small group brainstorming to highlight that each person is creative, and community collaboration to emphasize that something beautiful is possible when the group works together. This mural is installed in Downtown Noel as a symbol of recovery and resilience.