Missouri politicians assess, clean up Joplin damage

Missouri politicians took a day to tour the damage following the tornado in Joplin.

Missouri legislators traveled to Joplin, Mo. on June 8 to witness the damage first-hand. Organized by Rep. Bill White, R-Joplin, and Rep. Charlie Davis, R-Webb City, nearly 40 members surveyed the damage as well as assisted in the clean-up effort.

Rep. Chris Kelly, D-Columbia, was also part of the team but was unavailable for comment.

“I’m very impressed Chris Kelly and others could go out and show support,” Rep. Mary Still, D-Columbia said. Still said she was frustrated she was unable to attend due to recovering from back problems, but was happy she could help raise money for the cause.

Legislators had a full day scheduled touring the destruction. Beginning their day at Missouri Southern State University, they went through the Duquesne neighborhood, which lost 90 percent of its homes. They continued making stops at local businesses including Home Depot, Walmart, several restaurants and medical centers.

"For all of you who have probably seen videos on the news, or on YouTube, it just doesn’t compare," White said. "You have to view and be in the area. With 3.5 million cubic yards of debris, the people of Joplin are going to need a lot of assistance.”

White encouraged others to come see the destruction.

“It’ll make you have a real respect for weather and storms, and it shows you that this can happen,” White said. “It should at least encourage people to pay attention to the signs! I admit that I was lax on that myself, but now I’ll be paying a lot more attention.”

White said pertaining to recovery in Joplin, they are looking into taking advantage of the bad scenario with looking into new green construction for the city as well as making the structures sturdier. But he said it was not going to be easy with 7,000 structures gone and up to 151 people dead from the disaster.

House Speaker Steven Tilley, R-Perryville, announced the creation of the House Interim Committee on Disaster Recovery. This committee plans on assessing whether a special legislative session is needed to address the needs of Joplin and communities in southeast Missouri.

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