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Wayne Post
  • Homeland Security secretary tours Joplin devastation

  • Officials leading the cleanup of Joplin in the aftermath of last month’s tornado have set Aug. 7 as a deadline to finish cleaning up the debris left by the storm.

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  • Officials leading the cleanup of Joplin in the aftermath of last month’s tornado have set Aug. 7 as a deadline to finish cleaning up the debris left by the storm.
    U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, who toured the city and saw the devastation in Joplin, said the deadline is “regulatory and statutory,” but it will also serve to give the cleanup crews, both volunteer and professional, a clear-cut goal.
    “The people here and the people who are coming in are working very very hard, we know that,” Napolitano said in a news conference, held Thursday at the Joplin Public Safety Building. “We know the resources are going to be here, we know the Corps of Engineers is here and we’re going to do everything possible to meet these deadlines. School is supposed to start Aug. 17 and we want those kids in class. We want the education process to continue so these kinds of deadlines are a means by which we set benchmarks for ourselves on how the community can come back.”
    Napolitano appeared at the press conference with Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon, U.S. Congressman Billy Long and a host of law enforcement officers and Missouri Army National Guard Troops behind them.
    Nixon said the event was to honor the efforts of law enforcement officers, firefighters, emergency medical workers, and other public safety professionals who rushed into the disaster immediately after the tornado hit at 5:41 p.m. May 22.
    The EF5 tornado, the strongest rating on the Enhanced Fujita Scale used to rate tornados by the damage they cause, tore a swath through Joplin from just west of town on Central City Road to the Flying J Truck Stop at U.S. 71 and Interstate 44, destroying thousands of homes and businesses and leaving a growing death toll that stood at 151 as of Thursday.
    “In the days immediately after the storm, professionals from more than 400 separate law enforcement entities deployed to Joplin, helping save lives, secure the area and care for those who were injured,” Nixon said. “Some of these groups were from out of state as part of existing agreements for interstate aid that we have with our neighbors. Others, after seeing the destruction and devastation on the news, dropped everything to drive here and help in any way that they possibly could.
    “To those states and those emergency responders here in Joplin, in our hour of need, let me assure you on behalf of all Missourians, if you ever need us in times of storms or strife, we will be there at your side, serving just as you were for us.”
    Nixon also took time to honor Riverside, Mo., Master Patrol Officer Jeff Taylor, a Missouri Southern graduate and former Webb City Police officer who died last week after he was hit by lightning in one of the intense thunderstorms that hit Joplin on Monday, May 23.
    Page 2 of 2 - Taylor was buried in Cameron on Wednesday.
    Napolitano compared the devastation in Joplin to the other disasters sites she’s visited this spring.
    “We’ve had a terrible spring of tornados and floods in the United States this year and I’ve been to many of the sites, Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, up and down the country, and nothing compares,” Napolitano said. “Nothing compares to the size and the scope of the devastation here, the number of houses lost, the number of businesses lost, the number of lives lost. It’s just such a significant catastrophe, even compared to other ones across the country.”
    The Carthage Press
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