Those of us in southwest Missouri know just how devastating a natural disaster can be and May 22nd is a day we could probably live without. Overall, it has been a tough year for our part of the country, from severe flooding and now an influx of devastating tornadoes. While we will never forget these catastrophic events, it’s important to remind ourselves that we will recover and rebuild.
On Sunday, May 22, 2011, a devastating EF-5 tornado swept through Joplin causing 161 fatalities and over 1,100 injuries. And on the eight-year anniversary of one of the deadliest tornadoes in U.S. history, Missouri was once again hit with severe weather and multiple tornadoes throughout the state. Although the tornados and devastation missed Joplin this time, one did touch down in Carl Junction, less than 10 miles away. In just 14 minutes, 19 homes were destroyed, many were severely damaged, a number of people were injured, and thousands were left without power.
In the aftermath of this horrific disaster, I visited Carl Junction to survey the damage, encourage those who were impacted and offered assistance. As I saw homes torn apart, trees completely uprooted, and debris everywhere, I was reminded once again on why southwest Missouri is so special and unique - our strong sense of community and ability to come together in a time of need. As Chief of Police, Delmar Haase, and City Administrator, Steve Lawver, and I toured the area it was heartwarming to see all the families, neighbors, friends and volunteers helping one another. At one point, a couple approached me with tears in their eyes appreciative for all the support in such a time of need.
I am fortunate to represent such a resilient and strong group of people. In the aftermath of these storms, there’s a role we can all play. My office has reached out to and been in contact with businesses nationwide and FEMA. I have remained in close contact with Governor Parson and local officials. If you are in need of assistance in the aftermath of these storms, contact your local county or municipal emergency management director here: sema.dps.mo.gov. In addition, my local offices are available to assist in any way possible and can be reached at: Springfield (417) 889-1800, Joplin (417) 781-1041.
Just as Joplin did, I have no doubt Carl Junction will recover and rebuild.
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