Tuesday, July 12, 2011
Billy Long: Joplin should be an inspiration for all America
I want to thank Joplin Mayor Mike Woolston, Fire Chief Mitch Randles, Police Chief Lane Roberts and City Manager Mark Rohr for their outstanding leadership in the wake of the devastating tornado that hit Joplin a month ago. Theirs is the kind of leadership that makes the city of Joplin great. This type of exemplary dedication to their constituents is going a long way to getting the area back on its feet.
The coordinated efforts of disaster assistance personnel, the Missouri National Guard, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), local law enforcement, community leaders, and volunteers in Joplin are truly incredible. There is no way that we can thank them enough, but we can make sure they get what they need to rebuild Joplin.
Billy auctioneering in front of the Capitol at the Washington D.C. Missouri State Society’s Joplin Fundraiser, which raised almost $25,000 for the Joplin community.
A few days after the tornado, my Washington D.C. office received a phone call. The woman said that she and her ten-year old daughter had been watching the news and the aftermath of the tornado came on. She told us that her daughter had been so touched by the devastation and the stories of the victims that she asked her mom what they could do to help. We gave her information on where they could send food, toiletries, children’s toys and donations. When we asked where they were from, she told us they were from Connecticut.
I was in Joplin when I heard this story. It touched me how eager folks across the country wanted to help in any way they can. The last few weeks, I have seen the efforts of thousands of volunteers flow into Joplin from the 7th District, Missouri and all across the country. They have worked with AmeriCorps, Red Cross, and the United Way in cleaning the debris, setting up relief centers and helping victims. When an entire city has been leveled, it is truly touching to know that we are not alone.
When I went back to Washington the week after the tornado, I voted to release $1 billion dollars to help cover the costs of disaster relief for Joplin and other disaster stricken communities across the country. This funding might not solve all of our problems, but it will go a long way into getting our community back on its feet.
I continue to have meetings about Joplin both in the district and in Washington. In mid-June, Joplin Mayor Mike Woolston, MSSU President Bruce Speck, Superintendent C.J. Huff, Jasper County Presiding Commissioner John Bartosh, and Joplin Area Chamber of Commerce Board-Elect Shelly Kraft visited my office in Washington to let me know how I can better serve them.
In touring the damage again last week, I worked with the Army Corps of Engineers to see first-hand how they are using their resources to clean up Joplin. Working with the fine folks at the Corps, I believe that although cleaning up might take some time, progress is being made.
Col. Daniel Patton (left) is briefing Billy on the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' Joplin recovery effort at the Joplin Recovery Field Office in Joplin, Mo.
The deadly tornado in Joplin took the lives of neighbors and friends and countless more have been injured. Thousands of homes and businesses have been completely destroyed and many more damaged. These are tough times. Right now we face challenges many Americans won’t see in their lifetimes. But I also know that Joplin is a strong community and a proud community. With the leadership of our officials, the support of our volunteers, and the courage of our people, we will work to rebuild our homes, businesses, and community, stronger and better than before.
Joplin should be an inspiration for all of America—in the wake of tragedy, we all pull together. We will remain strong and stay resilient.