The Missouri Department of Public Safety provided an afternoon update on the effort to determine the status of individuals who were unaccounted-for as a result of Sunday's devastating tornado in Joplin."Since Gov. Nixon directed the Department of Public Safety to take charge of the process of locating unaccounted-for individuals, we have committed to a 24-hour a day effort of working with local and federal partners, and the public, to reduce the number of unaccounted-for individuals to zero," said Department of Public Safety Deputy Director Andrea Spillars. "The department and its agencies – the Highway Patrol and the State Emergency Management Agency – are devoting all available resources to this effort because that is what the relatives, friends and loved ones of those who are unaccounted-for deserve.”
On May 26, the department released a list of 232 individuals for whom an official missing persons report had been filed. More than 60 law-enforcement and emergency-management personnel, including Missouri State Highway Patrol troopers, State Emergency Management Agency staff, federal partners, and local detectives are working under the department's direction on this top priority.
As of 1 p.m., the Missouri Department of Public Safety provided the following updated totals:
· 100 persons are unaccounted for; this number includes nine persons who have been reported deceased by family, but for whom official confirmation is still underway.
· 114 persons have been reported located.
· 29 additional missing persons reports have been filed.
· 2 persons have been confirmed as duplicates.
Persons categorized as "reported located" are individuals who the Missouri State Highway Patrol has received credible information indicating that they are alive. Following the release and posting of the initial list on May 26, the Highway Patrol received many phone calls and e-mails that included credible information about the location of individuals. The Patrol is also monitoring postings on facebook and other social media sites. The Patrol and local police continue to pursue information to confirm the status of these individuals.
Spillars restated that the department understands that a number of the individuals still listed as unaccounted-for are persons believed to be deceased and who are in the process of being confirmed as deceased by the local coroner and the federal Disaster Mortuary Operational Response Team (DMORT). That is why the department is now reporting a new category – persons reported as deceased by their families, but for whom official confirmation is still underway.
Spillars said the department is taking numerous steps to expedite this process, including dispatching state troopers to notify families in a respectful and dignified manner, immediately after the identity has been confirmed by DMORT and the county coroner.
The names of these unaccounted-for individuals are being cross-referenced with all hospitals that admitted or treated patients injured during the tornado, shelters housing tornado survivors, applicants for disaster assistance and the Red Cross Safe and Well program. Additionally, the Department of Public Safety is working with cell phone service providers to check whether cell phones have been used by individuals who have been unaccounted-for list since their names were added to the list.
The unaccounted-for list is available on the Missouri Department of Public Safety Web site, www.dps.mo.gov and will be updated daily.
As of 1 p.m. Saturday, May 28, the next-of-kin of 52 deceased individuals have been notified. The names of these deceased individuals are:
Miguel Alvarez, 28, Joplin
Sarah L. Anderson, 47, Joplin
Grace Aquino, 46, of Joplin
Dorothy T. Bell, 88, Joplin
Regina M. Bloxham, 55, Joplin
Tami L. Campbell, 28, Joplin
Arriyinnah S. Carmona, 8, Joplin
Moises Carmona-Navarro, 42, Joplin
Trenton Caton, 6, Pierce City
Raymond Chew, 66, Joplin
Clyde Coleman, 72, Galena, Kansas
Lois A. Comfort, 66, Webb City
Adam Darnaby, 27, Joplin
Ellen Doyle, 75, Joplin
Randy E. England, 34, Neosho
Betty Fisher, 86, Joplin
Marsha A. Frost, 32, Joplin
Sebastian C. Frost, 10, Joplin
Charles K. Gaudsmith, 21, Carthage
Caley Hare, 16, Joplin
Hayze Howard, 1, Webb City
Harli Howard, 11, Webb City
Virgil T. Reid, 77, Joplin
Thomas Russell Howard, 29, Webb City
Nancy Martin, 52, Miami, Oklahoma
Randall E. Mell, 49, Joplin
Donald R. Miller, 49, Joplin
Doris Montgomery, 83, Joplin
Sharyl Nelson, 34, Joplin
William R. Norton, 18, Joplin
Dennis M. Osborn, 34, Seneca
Shirley Ann Parker, 68, Joplin
John H. Petty, 37, Neosho
Natalia M. Puebla, 37, Neosho
Shelly Marie Ramsey, 42, Neosho
Loretta Randell, 54, Joplin
Troy Raney, 39, Joplin
Johnny Richey, 52, Joplin
Vicki Robertson, 66, Joplin
Tonya L. Sawyer, 41, Fort Scott, Kansas
Judy Smith, 71, Joplin
Virginia Mae Salmon, 80, Joplin
Steven J. Stephens, 28, Joplin
Kayleigh Teal, 16, Pittsburg, Kansas
John Thomas, Jr., 40, Joplin
Sandra K. Thomas, 55, Carthage
Margaret Tuit, 92, Joplin
Michael E. Tyndall, 33, Joplin
Miles Wells, 49, Webb City
Tiera Whitley, 20, Fulton, Kansas
Zach Williams, 12, Joplin
Charles W. Writer, 74, Joplin
To help reduce the list of unaccounted-for individuals and speed the process of reuniting tornado survivors with loved ones, Spillars urged the public to call the Missouri State Highway Patrol Found-Persons Hotline: 417-895-6868.
To get direction on filing a report about an unaccounted-for individual, families and loved ones may call 417-659-5464 or file a report with the Highway Patrol in person at the Billingsley Student Center on the campus of Missouri Southern State University.
The Department of Public Safety will release a daily update of those individuals confirmed as deceased as a result of the tornado, following notification of next-of-kin. The updates will be available on the department Web site, www.dps.mo.gov.