Nearly two years after a devastating EF5 tornado, Joplin, Mo., has received an additional $113 million from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to help continue recovery efforts.
HUD awarded the state of Missouri a total of $125 million from its block grant program, which aims at promoting long-term disaster recovery. Eight other states received smaller grants to help recover from wildfires, flooding, hurricanes and other natural disasters.
The state will use the additional $11.8 million to promote recovery in other areas of Missouri that were damaged by flooding, tornadoes and severe storms in spring 2011.
“In the last two years, many communities have had to deal with the reality of our changing climate and the increasing severity of natural disasters,” HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan said in a news release. “HUD is continuing to work closely with state and local partners to help them realize a locally driven vision for restoring and rebuilding.”
The May 22, 2011 tornado damaged or destroyed more than 7,500 homes and 531 businesses in Joplin, according to city records. One hundred sixty-one people were killed, and more than 1,000 were injured as the tornado swept across the city in 13 minutes.
U.S. Sens. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., and Roy Blunt, R-Mo., praised the additional funding.
“These resources are a vital part of the rebuilding process," McCaskill said in a news release. “Joplin continues to offer us an example of resilience and recovery, and I'm confident these additional resources will only help further strengthen this community," she said.
Blunt, who in recent months has voiced his concern over the growing federal deficit, said Joplin is an example of a city that benefits from federal aid.
“When a disaster exceeds the ability of communities and states, the federal government has a responsibility to help people rebuild,” Blunt said in a news release praising the assistance package.
Joplin City Manager Mark Rohr said the grant would supplement a previous HUD grant and help the city rebuild and redevelop.
“We are truly grateful for this recent award,” Rohr told Blunt. “These funds will be invested back into our community and provide the opportunity to enhance our rebuilding efforts and greatly assist in the redevelopment of our community.”
Blunt also sponsored the Fiscal Year 2012 agriculture spending bill, which included a natural disaster provision that allotted $54 million of HUD spending to Missouri in January 2012. Of the $54 million, Joplin received $45.2 million.
Joplin and other cities and states that received the HUD funding, which totaled $514 million, will submit spending proposals to the HUD for review. The bulk of Joplin’s $45.2 million grant went to housing-related expenses.
Recently, Joplin schools received an additional $3 million from the Economic Development Administration to help rebuild the Franklin Technology Center, a vocational training school the tornado destroyed.
Joplin has now received approximately $350 million in aid and donations since the tornado. Immediately after the tornado, MU partnered with Heart of Missouri United Way to raise money for Joplin. Special tornado-relief One Mizzou T-shirts raised $250,000 for the city in a matter of weeks.