(From the City of Joplin)
Final greetings of thanks and appreciation from the City of Joplin go with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) as they demobilize from the debris management function of the May 22 tornado. Originally mission-assigned by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the USACE arrived in Joplin immediately following the EF-5 tornado to aid in a fast and efficient cleanup effort from the tornado’s devastating destruction.
“It is fair to say that no one could believe the devastation that hit Joplin that fateful Sunday night,” said Mark Rohr, City Manager. “City staff immediately opened the Emergency Operations Center to begin the search and rescue mission, and we knew then we faced a tremendous challenge with the City’s cleanup needs. The City has managed several disasters in the past, but this damage literally covered a third of our City. The City worked with FEMA to initially develop a strategy, and put the Corps into place to handle this debris assignment. It is evident that their organization is well trained and disciplined to handle these situations.”
The City announced on August 8 that with the aid of its federal and state partners, the hard-pressed August 7 deadline for Expedited Debris Removal (EDR) on private property had been met. “FEMA and the Corps have provided great assistance with this initiative allowing us to meet this significant deadline” said Rohr.
The EDR initiative allowed government-funded contractors to remove loose, tornado debris from private property within a designated tornado-damaged area, and offered a 90 percent federal match to a 10 percent local and state match for costs incurred. FEMA introduced this initiative and mission assigned the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to execute the debris management process.
In days following the tornado, the USACE initially assessed the residential debris and estimated 3 million cubic yards (CY) was literally strewn from one end of the City to the other. FEMA established daily meetings with City and Corps officials to strategize and develop a working plan to assist residents in clearing the debris from their destroyed homes.
On June 17, City officials watched from the street as the first private property debris removal (PPDR) work was completed. Citizens authorized the work by signing the Right of Entry (ROE) form made available in numerous locations by the City. Overall, the Corps contractor completed 1,505 PPDR’s.
In addition to the PPDR work being completed in the EDR area, the City saw thousands of volunteers come to Joplin to help clean the neighborhoods by moving debris to the curbside and separating it into the designated piles. Plus, numerous property owners utilized their insurance proceeds to clear their lots. Overall, it’s been estimated that these groups provided assistance in cleaning debris from approximately half of the lots through their own resources.
“When you drive through the disaster area today, it is truly amazing what has been accomplished,” said Rohr. “We want to thank the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for their work in cleaning up our City, and wish them the best as they continue to help communities in need.”
Rohr also notes that although the Corps is demobilized, the City staff continues to work in the recovery stage of the disaster. FEMA officials also remain on task, as many other government agencies, in order to help citizens in various areas, including the ongoing demolition phase, as well as the rebuilding of homes.
Skilled volunteer groups are available to help property owners who may need assistance with demolition. Demolition includes removing footings, crawl spaces, basements, driveways, if the homeowner will not be rebuilding on the existing foundations, as well as the structure itself. Assistance is available for all types of work by calling 417-627-2900.
More specific details about demolition will be forthcoming this week.
The City encourages residents to call the Tornado Assistance Information Line at 417-627-2900, if they have questions.