Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Joplin couple, Glenn and Lorie Holland, killed four days after 15th wedding anniversary

(The following obituary is taken from the Parker Mortuary website.)

Glenn and Lorie Holland of Joplin, Missouri, exchanged their earthly home for a better one on the evening of May 22, 2011, having just returned from a week at Walt Disney World in Florida in celebration of their 15th wedding anniversary.

Glenn Wayne Holland was born June 21, 1951, in Joplin. He graduated from Memorial High School in 1969, then later earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration, a master’s degree in health care management, and finally a bachelor’s degree in computer information science. He was a retired Air Force major and a member of the Retired Officer’s Association, the National Rifle Association, the American Legion and the National Skeet Shooting Association. He was currently working at Leggett & Platt.

Lorie Marie Holland was born December 22, 1962, in Joplin. She graduated from Parkwood High School in 1981 and attended Southern Illinois University in Carbondale where she was a member of the Sigma Kappa Sorority. She was a drafter for several companies in St. Louis and Joplin, having most recently worked at Allgeier and Martin. She loved scrapbooking, was an avid Disney enthusiast, a seasonal worker at OCC, and election poll worker. She was training for the Boomtown Days half marathon. She was a member of First Presbyterian Church growing up and a member of the Mayflower Society.

Lorie and Glenn were married on May 18, 1996, and were members of Central City Christian Church.

Glenn was preceded in death by his daughter Amy, grandparents Perry and Ruth Holland, and Wesley and Velma Tracy, and is survived by daughters Shannon Mills of Cibolo, Texas, and Rachel Alexander of Bryan, Texas, and grandchildren Ethan, Avery, Ryan, Taylor, Kyle. Glenn is also survived by his parents, Wayne and Mary Holland of Joplin, sister Dorothy Vaughan of Joplin, sister and brother-in-law Jenny and Rick Smith of Webb City, and numerous nephews and nieces.

Lorie was preceded in death by her grandparents, Paul and Edna Marti, and Dennis and Lois Lippoldt. Lorie is survived by her mother and stepfather, Bonnie and William Mahood of Overland Park, Kansas, sister and brother-in-law, Kristie and Steve Tusinger of Joplin, niece and nephew, Abby Marie Tusinger and Zachary Tusinger of Joplin, father Victor Lippoldt of Joplin, stepbrother and wife, William and Michele Mahood of Overland Park, KS, and their children, Kristen and Kellen Mahood.

Their joint funeral is to be held on Saturday, June 4, 2:00 p.m. at Ozark Christian College chapel. Visitation to be held prior to service beginning at 1:00 p.m. Burial will immediately follow services at Osborne Cemetery, 33rd and McClelland Blvd with full military honors for Glenn. Pallbearers will be nephews Zachary Tusinger, Nathan Smith, Jonathan Smith, Matthew Smith, Curt Vaughan, and friend of the couple, Rocky Swearingen. Funeral arrangements are under the direction of Parker Mortuary. A memorial service is to be held in their honor at Epcot on June 3. Memorial contributions may be made to the Joplin Humane Society, Ozark Christian College, or charity of your choice.

Services Wednesday for Steven Stephens, construction worker, tornado victim

Steven J. Haack Stephens, age 28, passed away on Sunday, May 22, 2011 as a result of injuries sustained in the tornado.

Steven was born March 17, 1983 in Holdreg, Nebraska, son of Tracy Haack of Geneva, Nebraska and Tina Salsbury Davis of Savannah, Missouri. He was a construction worker and a Baptist.

He was preceded in death by a daughter, Aspen Haack Stephens, sister-in-law, Meranda Stephens, grandmothers, Linda Salbury and Shirley Clevenger.

Survivors include his wife, Tasha Stephens of Troy, Kansas; children, Dayton Stephens, Alexander Haack Stephens, Alaris Haack Stephens; father, Fred Piska of Wichita, Kansas; sister, Kali Haack of Savannah; grandfather, Mike Salsbury of Rockaway Beach, Missouri; mother-in-law, Terrie Stephens; father-in-law, Rusty Stephens; aunts, Nora Campbell, Robin Sisk; nephews, Juan DeDios, Zeke Soldanels, niece, Lyrik Stout; uncles, Steve Salsbury, Michael Salsbury; many other family members.

Funeral services will be Wednesday, June 1, 2011 at 10:00 a.m. in Parker Mortuary Chapel with Rev. Bob Simon officiating. Cremation will follow the service.

The family will receive friends at Parker Mortuary on Tuesday from 7:00 to 8:00 p.m.

Former Jasper County Deputy Collector Marie Piquard, killed in tornado

(The following obituary is taken from the Mason-Woodard Mortuary website.)

Hallie “Marie” Cook Piquard age 78 of Joplin, Mo. passed away Sunday May 22, 2011 from injuries sustained in the catastrophic tornado.

Marie was born October 20, 1932 in Lufkin, Tx. to Arthur and Nobbil (Mossingelle) Agleton. She worked as a Deputy Collector for Jasper County, and with CFI for eight years. She was a member of the Harmony Heights Baptist Church. She enjoyed bowling and southern gospel music.

She married Elbert “Dick” Cook on December 3, 1960 in Texas, he preceded her in death on December 8, 2000. She then married Lloyd Piquard on May 3, 2003, he survives. Additional survivors include two sons, Lloyd Piquard Jr. and wife Donna of Neodesha, Ks., Chris Piquard and wife Pamela of Joplin. Three daughters, Bonita Harrison and her husband gary of Carthage, Debbie Poole and her husband Karl of Jena, La. and Susan Tatum and her Husband Mike of Joplin; thirteen grandchildren and twenty-four great grandchildren; one niece and two nephews. She was preceded in death by one brother, Gene Agleton in 2011, one daughter Carolyn Piquard and one grandson, Joshua Harrison.

Funeral services will be 11:00 a.m. Thursday June 2, 2011 at the Carthage First Baptist Church. Rev. Charlie Burnett and Gene Jefferies officiating. Burial will be in Knight Cemetery in Lufkin, Tx., at 3:30 p.m. Friday June 3, 2011. The family will receive friends from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. Wednesday at Mason-Woodard Chapel. Memorial contributions may be made to the Harmony Heights Baptist Church Tornado Victim Fund at SMB. Arrangements are under the direction of Mason-Woodard Mortuary & Crematory.

Friday services set for Lois Sparks, 92, devout Baptist, killed in tornado

(The following obituary is taken from the Mason-Woodard Mortuary website.)

Lois L. Sparks, age 92, Joplin, went to be with her Lord and Savior on Sunday May 22, 2011, from injuries sustained in the Joplin tornado.

Lois was born on June 8, 1918 in Wichita, Ks., the daughter of Mable and Will Schnoor in Wichita, Ks. She married Wallace Sparks April 26, 1936 in Wichita, they were married for seventy-one years. He preceded her in death on February 14, 2007. She was member of the Eastern Star and a devout member of the Baptist Church, attending both Harmony Heights Baptist Church and later Eastview Baptist Church, working many years in childhood evangelism.

She is survived by her son, Ralph Sparks and wife Charlene, Joplin; four grandchildren, Jerry and Nanda Sparks, Joplin, Travis and Cassie Sparks, Joplin, Jodi and Kevin Austin, Springfield, Mo., and Ron Sparks, Tulsa, Okla.; and eight great-grandchildren.

Funeral services will be 3:00 p.m. Friday at Mason-Woodard Chapel. Rev. Tim Sumners will officiate. Burial will be Ozark Memorial Park Cemetery. The pallbearers will be Jerry Sparks, Travis Sparks, Pete Poore, Mark McDonald, Ron Sparks, and Kevin Austin.

The family will receive friends 7-8 p.m. Thursday at Mason-Woodard Mortuary & Crematory. Memorial contributions may be given to the American Red Cross in care of the mortuary.

Arrangements are under the direction of Mason-Woodard Mortuary & Crematory.

Services Saturday for Kayleigh Teel, 16, tornado victim

Funeral services for  Pizza Hut employee Kayleigh Teel, 16, Seneca, will be held 10 a.m. Saturday, June 4, at First Baptist Church, Miami. It was mistakenly written in an earlier Turner Report post that the services were held last Saturday.

Visitation will be held 6 to 8 p.m. Friday at Paul Thomas Funeral Home, Miami.

Obituary information has not yet been posted.

Joplin Tornado debris removal to begin Wednesday: search continues for survivors

(From the City of Joplin)

Storm debris-removal efforts for public streets and curbsides in the City of Joplin are scheduled to begin Wednesday, June 1, city officials are announcing.

Meanwhile, the city’s search crews are conducting a sixth pass in Joplin’s tornado-devastated areas to continue an all-out effort to find all persons who are still reported to be missing.

“This has been a significant disaster that has affected over 30% of our City,” said Mark Rohr, City Manager of Joplin. “We are here for our residents, and this effort is a priority. We have not given up hope. We will proceed with the hope of a miracle occurring.”

Plans for debris removal are now being finalized. The larger, debris-removal efforts are being managed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and its authorized subcontractors. The Army Corps has been brought in by FEMA at the request of local and state officials to help with the massive debris removal needs in Joplin and surrounding areas.

Initial debris-removal efforts will concentrate on clearing storm debris from public rights-of-way which encompass curbside areas of public streets. Wherever possible, citizens who are moving debris towards the curbsides are encouraged to sort their debris into six basic categories: Vegetative (trees, bushes, brush), White Goods such as refrigerators, freezers, water heaters, lawn mowers; Electronics such as computers, telephones, DVDs; C&D which includes structural pieces, furniture, possessions and carpeting; Hazardous Waste such as oil, batteries, paints, household cleaning supplies and regular, bagged Household Garbage (food, paper, packaging, etc.)

A separate effort to remove storm debris from certain public and private property will begin soon as well. This effort is aimed at properties that sustained catastrophic or extensive damage. All debris removal will be done under the observation of a trained spotter in the event a recovery is needed.

Owners of these heavily damaged properties will need to sign a Right-of-Entry (ROE) before this specific debris removal can begin. City officials will soon be providing this form and announcing various locations for citizens to pick up and return copies.

City officials note that signing an ROE does not transfer ownership of property. Rather, this permission allows the Army Corps and its subcontractors to go onto private property and remove debris. Demolition of storm-damaged homes and businesses will not take place during this operation.

City officials will continue to provide regular debris removal updates in the coming days and weeks.

For additional updates, citizens are encouraged to visit www.facebook.com/cityofjoplin.

Make sure contractors are licensed, bonded, insured

(From the city of Joplin)

As our community begins the cleanup and rebuilding process, we urge residents to ensure contractors are properly licensed, bonded and insured within the City of Joplin. Many contractors will be in the community to help with this process.

The City of Joplin issues a green business license and a blue contractor’s card. Residents may also call 417-624-0820 ext. 242 or 241 to verify a properly licensed contractor. The City of Joplin logs complaints on local contractors; the City will not have this information for new contractors.

Any one performing contracting work in the City of Joplin is required to have a contractor’s license. Licenses can be obtained from the Finance Department located in City Hall at 602 S Main St. Contracting work includes clean-up, demolition, tree trimming or cutting and removal, roofing, siding, window replacement, building renovation, repair and construction, all trade work such as electrical, mechanical, plumbing and gas,

Contractors found performing work without licenses are subject to fines and imprisonment as allowed by the City Code of Laws.

In addition, the Missouri Department of Insurance recommends the following steps:

· Don't let contractors inspect your home if you're not watching. Some unscrupulous workers will cause damage to drive up the repair cost, and your insurance company will likely not cover the additional damage.

· Once your claim is processed, get estimates from contractors or auto repair shops known to you or recommended by someone you trust. Be suspicious of solicitors who offer to do repairs for you. You can also check a company's complaint history with the Attorney General's Office or Better Business Bureau.

· Don't pay the whole repair bill in advance. Pay in full only when the work is completed according to your agreement.

For more information contact the Missouri Department of Insurance at 1-800-726-7390. The City of Joplin advises all residents to proceed cautiously as we proceed with the cleanup and rebuilding process.

Friday services for Keith Robinson, CNA at Greenbriar, tornado victim

(The following obituary is taken from the Mason-Woodard Mortuary website.)

Keith Derek Robinson, age 50, Joplin, passed away on May 22, 2011, from injuries sustained in the Joplin tornado, at the Greenbriar Nursing Home.

Keith was born on August 1, 1960 in Joplin, the son of Charles and Betty (Love) Robinson-Gray. He has been a lifetime Joplin resident. He worked as a CNA for the Greenbriar Nursing Home, prior to that he worked eighteen years for Freeman Hospital. Keith had a wonderful way with his patients. He would motivate them to do their rehabilitation in a stern but kind and respectful manner. He was responsible for many patients being able to recover and even walk again. He thoroughly enjoyed watching old movies.

He is survived by his mother, Betty Robinson-Gray, Joplin; one sister, Mary Katherine “KK” Robinson, Joplin; one brother, Charles Robinson, Jr.; nephews, Jeremy and Justin Robinson, and Dylan Rapp, all of Joplin; three uncles, J.D. Love, Joplin, Jerry Love, Jr. and wife Elaine, Joplin, and Robert Love, Farmington, Mo.; and many, many cousins and friends. He was preceded in death by his father, Charles D. Robinson; his step-dad William O. Gray; his grandparents, Jerry and Katherine Love, and an uncle, Raymond Love and two aunts Vera Jenkins and Helen Derrick.

Funeral services will be 10:00 a.m. Friday at Mason-Woodard Mortuary Chapel. Reverend Samuel Nero will officiate. Burial will be in parkway Cemetery. The pallbearers will be Charles Stewart, Hayse Stewart, Jerry Love, Jr., Justin Robinson, Jeremy Robinson, Billy Love, and Doug Derrick.

The family visitation will be 6-7 p.m. Thursday at Mason-Woodard. Memorial contributions may be given in Keith’s memory to your choice of the following, St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital, Feed the Children, or World Vision.

Arrangements are under the direction of Mason-Woodard Mortuary & Crematory.

Austin TV station intern covers tornado in Joplin, her second home

KXAN-TV, Austin, Texas, intern Lindsay Henry, who has family and friends in Joplin, which she calls her second home, came to help and did some live coverage of the event:

City of Joplin does not condone using circus elephants for tornado cleanup

(From the city of Joplin)

There is information in various media outlets showing circus elephants being used clean up in Joplin after the tornado disaster. Picadilly Circus made the initial offer to the City, and the City declined the offer.

Parks Director Chris Cotten appreciates everyone’s efforts, but if people see this occurring, it is not condoned under the direction of the City.

A complete list of tornado recovery information can be found on the City of Joplin website. http://www.joplinmo.org/tornadoinfo.cfm

Student survives Tuscaloosa, Joplin tornadoes

A powerful story on a CNN blog about Emily Fuller, 20, Joplin, whose spring semester at the University of Alabama was shortened by the tornado that hit Tuscaloosa...then she came here for more of the same:

When the first of two tornado sirens went off, Emily's parents didn't act very alarmed. They weren't moving very quickly.

The lights went out.

"I begged them to come with me to the basement," she said.

It was 5:45 p.m., she recalls. The tornado was on top of them. "It happened very quickly - bad to very bad," he said. "I thought, 'This it it. She's right.' "

Emily Fuller knew how little time they had.

Her father opened a basement closet that he had intended, when he furnished the space, to be an ideal tornado shelter.

"Turns out we were storing all our china in there," he recalled. "So I said, 'Okay, that's not going to work.'"

The basement had another closet so the three dove in.

Minutes passed. The sound of a storm can be deceptive. And to Stephen Fuller's ear, it seemed for a brief time that the storm was ebbing. Out of curiosity, he stuck his head up high enough to look out of window. The winds were blowing at maddening speed. He said loudly, 'Hey, I don't see a tornado.'"

Emily ordered him to get down.

When the twister passed, her phone rang. It was her sister calling from Birmingham, Alabama. "She said she was watching the news and all of Joplin was gone," Emily said. "I just couldn't believe it."

The Fuller family was lucky. Emily and her parents were uninjured. Their house, less than a mile from the town's most ravaged neighborhood, was untouched.

Jamie McMurray to arrive in town Thursday

NASCAR News reports Joplin native Jamie McMurray, who lost his childhood home during the May 22 tornado, will be in Joplin Thursday:

"I probably had some friends ask [me] about coming -- but I wanted to go there," McMurray said. "It's really hard for me to explain. This doesn't happen to very many people. There's something special about your hometown. It's just hard to explain.

"I wanted to go there on my own and just see everything. I've been glued to the TV for the last six days [prior to last Sunday] just watching everything and trying to remember what things looked like before. So, I want to go there and see it for myself."

He'll take the opportunity on his way to this weekend's event at Kansas Speedway, in conjunction with an event at Bass Pro Shops, his car's primary sponsor, about 70 miles away from Joplin in Springfield, Mo.

McMurray's last visit to Joplin was "four or five years ago." He left the town at age 20 as his racing career developed and he's been joined in North Carolina by the remainder of his family that formerly lived in the community of about 50,000 people in southwest Missouri.

"I do have a lot of friends still there," McMurray said. "But like most of us, I probably haven't stayed as close to friends of my hometown as I would have liked to have."

JHS Sophomore: It's horrible to see the destruction of my school, my home

Chanci McGowen, one of the first group of eighth graders at East Middle School during the 2009-2010 school year, lost her home and her high school in the tornado. She is featured in the latest CNN Student News interview.

Also interviewed is former South Middle School student Katie Wood, who graduated from JHS May 22 hours before the tornado hit.

The Joplin portion of the video starts about halfway through it.

The transcript of the Joplin part of the accompanying video is printed below:

Tornado Recovery

AZUZ: Recovery efforts are getting started in Joplin, Missouri, and help is coming from some unexpected places. For example, a group of homeless volunteers from Kentucky. They collected donations for the tornado victims and then drove to Joplin to distribute them. Another unique source of help: an elephant from a circus that was supposed to perform in the area. The show, of course, couldn't happen. But the animal was able to use its strength to help workers clear heavy debris from some areas. Many residents of Joplin are still coming to grips with the devastation that hit their hometown. Morgan Schutters of affiliate KODE reports on the tornado's impact on the Joplin High School community.


MORGAN SCHUTTERS, KODE REPORTER: Katie Wood graduated from Joplin High School just an hour before the tornado hit.

KATIE WOOD, JOPLIN HIGH SCHOOL ALUMNI: Even looking at it, it's still really hard to believe it.

SCHUTTERS: Now, she's singing the national anthem at a memorial service for her classmates and the community.

WOOD: It's so hard singing it right in front of my school that just blew away.

SCHUTTERS: But Joplin High School sophomore Chanci McGowen still has the rest of her high school career ahead of her, as she looks at what is left in shambles.

CHANCI MCGOWEN, JOPLIN HIGH SCHOOL SOPHOMORE: It's indescribable. It's horrible, just devastating to see all the destruction of my school, my home.

SCHUTTERS: McGowen is one of many students who lost both.

MCGOWEN: It was heartbreaking. My whole neighborhood is gone, but everyone's OK.

SCHUTTERS: It was a somber afternoon as they gathered outside the school. A moment of silence honoring military and tornado victims. Eight people in the Joplin R-8 School District are confirmed dead: seven students and one staff member.

WOOD: Wondering who is still alive and who's not.

SCHUTTERS: Superintendent Dr. CJ Huff said last Friday, when he got word, his world stopped. Sorrow for the lost and relief for the living.

CJ HUFF, SUPERINTENDENT, JOPLIN R-8 SCHOOL DISTRICT: As a result of your diligence and unwavering fortitude in the face of insurmountable challenges, 100 percent of our family are accounted for.

SCHUTTERS: Summer classes will begin as scheduled in less than three weeks, on June 13th.

Hartzler: Vote against increasing debt ceiling was a vote for America

Fourth District Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler said her vote today against increasing the debt ceiling was a vote for America:

Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler (MO-4) has taken the side of American taxpayers over the interests of tax-and-spend Washington liberals by saying “no” to President Obama’s call to raise our country’s public debt ceiling. The proposal to give government the authority to continue its irresponsible borrowing and spending without any agreement on spending cuts was solidly defeated in the House.

“This vote is a clear message to President Obama and his liberal allies that any increase in the debt limit must be accompanied by real, permanent, and sustainable spending cuts that will change the trajectory we’re on so we don’t bankrupt our country,” said Hartzler. “The President and his friends want to raise our debt limit ceiling without any cuts or commitments to reverse course. That is irresponsible and unacceptable! American families know you can’t keep spending money you don’t have. Washington needs to learn from them.”

“The vote we have taken is a repudiation of an unreasonable position held by the Obama Administration and liberals in the House,” continued Hartzler. “The debt limit has already been increased three times under President Obama, with the total debt now towering at $14.3 trillion. Other countries hold 47 percent of the debt, with China being the largest lender / holder at 29.2 percent of the foreign-held debt. We simply cannot afford another blind increase in the debt ceiling. For our children’s national security, to create jobs, and to save our country from bankruptcy we must stop spending money we don’t have, reverse course, and get out of debt.”

The debt limit has increased almost $3 trillion since President Obama took office. Over the past two years, the President and liberals in Congress have been responsible for the largest budget deficits in U.S. history.

Facebook tribute page established for Lantz Hare

A Facebook salute page for Joplin High School student Lantz Hare, who was killed in the May 22 tornado, can be found at this link.

Lantz Hare was a top-notch BMX bike rider and had been featured in national publications.

Latest Huffington Post blog pays tribute to Joplin High School graduate killed in tornado

My latest Huffington Post blog, Joplin High School Tornado Victim was a Shooting Star, is my tribute Will Norton, who graduated from JHS only a brief time before he lost his life in the May 22 tornado:

Two hours later, his life had ended, as a tornado had ended his life. Will was taken through the sun roof of the Hummer H3 he was driving, a vehicle whose virtues he had extolled in a YouTube video made on his 16th birthday.

Though the end came quickly for Will, his body was not found immediately. For the next six days, the hunt for the teenager took on a national importance, a desperate hope that somehow, something positive could come out of this tragedy which has changed the face of Joplin forever.

City of Joplin establishes Tornado Assistance Information Line

(From the city of Joplin)

To help provide answers to residents affected from the tornado, the City of Joplin has established the Tornado Assistance Information Line (TAIL).

Residents may call 417-627-2900 between the hours of 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. The line will be operated by live operators who can address questions from residents and volunteers about the services needed after the tornado disaster.

A complete list of tornado recovery information can be found on the City of Joplin website. http://www.joplinmo.org/tornadoinfo.cfm

List of 120 tornado victims released, missing down to 10

(From the Missouri Department of Public Safety)

The Missouri Department of Public Safety this afternoon reported that the number of persons unaccounted-for as a result of the EF-5 tornado that devastated Joplin on May 22 now stands at 10. All persons once classified as reported deceased by their families, but awaiting scientific confirmation of their identities, have now been identified and their next-of-kin notified.

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. At 9 a.m. on May 27, the number had been reduced to 156; at 1 p.m. on May 28, the number had been reduced to 100; at 11 a.m. on May 29, the number had been reduced to 43; at 11:30 a.m. on May 30, the number had been reduced to 29.

The Department of Public Safety provided the following updated totals, as of 11 a.m. May 31:

· 10 persons are unaccounted for

· 144 persons have been reported located

· 37 additional missing persons reports have been filed

· 4 persons have been confirmed to have been reported on the list twice or under different names

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.

"As of today, the number of unaccounted-for individuals has been reduced to 10, from 232 on May 26, and our 24-hour a day effort continues," said Department of Public Safety Deputy Director Andrea Spillars. "Since Gov. Nixon directed the Department of Public Safety to take charge of locating all unaccounted-for individuals, and notifying the next-of-kin of all the confirmed deceased, the Highway Patrol has devoted all available personnel to this effort. The department, the Patrol and SEMA are committed to continuing this around the clock effort.”

Spillars said that the department is encouraged by the fact that 144 persons who were once unaccounted-for have now been reported to be located. The Missouri State Highway Patrol, local law enforcement and others continue to work to confirm each of these reports.

The names of 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 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 11 a.m. Tuesday, May 31, the next-of-kin of 120 deceased individuals have been notified. The names of these deceased individuals are:

Jose O. Alvarez, 59, Joplin Donald W. Lansaw, Jr., 31, Joplin

Barbara A. Anderson, 76, Joplin Bruce A. Lievens, 48, Joplin

Sarah L. Anderson, 47, Joplin Billie S. Little, 65, Joplin

William A. Anderson, 53, Joplin Skyuler I. Logsdon, 1, Joplin

Cyrus "Edward" Ash, Jr., 87, Joplin Christopher D. Lucas, 28, Vinita, Oklahoma

Grace Aquino, 46, of Joplin Rachel K. Markham, 31, Joplin

Robert W. Baker, 54, Joplin Nancy Martin, 52, Neosho

Robert E. Bateson, 45, Joplin Jesse L. McKee, 44, Neosho

Dorothy T. Bell, 88, Joplin James E. McKeel, 69, Joplin

Regina M. Bloxham, 55, Joplin Mary L. McKeel, 64, Joplin

Lathe E. Bradfield, 84, Joplin Randall E. Mell, 49, Joplin

Ramona M. Bridgeford, 77, Seneca Ronald D. Meyer, 64, Joplin

Leo E. Brown, 86, Joplin Lorna K. Miller, 72, Joplin

Hugh O. Buttram, 85, Joplin Ray Donald Miller III, 49, Joplin

Tami L. Campbell, 28, Joplin Suzanne M. Mock, 39, Forsyth

Arriyinnah S. Carmona, 8, Joplin Esterlita Moore, 64, Joplin

Moises Carmona-Navarro, 42, Joplin Doris Montgomery, 83, Joplin

Shante M. Caton, 10, Joplin Edmond V. Mullaney, 82, Joplin

Trenton Caton, 6, Pierce City Sharyl Nelsen, 34, Joplin

Raymond Chew, 66, Joplin William R. Norton, 18, Joplin

Carolane J. Collins, 62 Eagle Rock Dennis M. Osborn, 34, Seneca

Clyde Coleman, 72, Galena, Kansas Charles E. Oster, 77, Joplin

Lois A. Comfort, 66, Webb City Shirley Ann Parker, 68, Joplin

Keenan K. Conger, 49, Joplin Mary J. Perry, 76, Joplin

Vicki L. Cooper, 59, Joplin James B. Peterson, 27, Joplin

Teddy R. Copher, 71, Joplin John H. Petty, 37, Neosho

Malisa A. Crossley, 36, Joplin Hallie M. Piquard, 78, Joplin

Adam Darnaby, 27, Joplin Natalia M. Puebla, 17, Neosho

Patricia E. Dawson, 74, Joplin Shelly Marie Ramsey, 42, Neosho

Nancy E. Douthitt, 94, Joplin Loretta Randell, 54, Joplin

Ellen Doyle, 75, Joplin Troy Raney, 39, Joplin

Amonda S. Eastwood, 49, Joplin Virgil T. Reid, 77, Joplin

Richard A. Elmore, 70, Joplin Johnny Richey, 52, Joplin

Randy E. England, 34, Neosho Vicki Robertson, 66, Joplin

Mark L. Farmer, 56, Joplin Keith D. Robinson, 48, Joplin

Ida M. Finley, 88, Joplin Virginia Mae Salmon, 80, Joplin

Betty Fisher, 86, Joplin Tonya L. Sawyer, 41, Fort Scott, Kansas

Robert S. Fitzgerald, 61, Joplin Frances A. Scates, 70, Joplin

Rick E. Fox, 56, Joplin Gladys J. Seay, 83, Welch, Oklahoma

Marsha A. Frost, 32, Joplin Daniel W. Shirley, 48, Joplin

Sebastian C. Frost, 10, Joplin Judy Smith, 71, Joplin

Charles K. Gaudsmith, 21, Carthage Nicholaus A. Smith, 23, Joplin

Billie J. Gideon, 77, Joplin Shyrell L. Smith, 68, Pittsburg, Kansas

Paul E. Haddock, 63, Joplin Lois L. Sparks, 92, Joplin

Caley Lantz Hare, 16, Joplin Steven J. Stephens, 28, Joplin

Dorothy V. Hartman, 91, Joplin Gregan D. Sweet, 59, Joplin

Dee A. Hayward, 47, Galena, Kansas Kayleigh Teal, 16, Pittsburg, Kansas

Glenn W. Holland, 59, Joplin Heather L. Terry, 36, Joplin

Lorie M. Holland, 48, Joplin John Thomas, Jr., 40, Joplin

Charlotte Hopwood, 84, Joplin Sandra K. Thomas, 55, Carthage

Hayze Howard, 1, Webb City Zachary D. Treadwell, 9, Joplin

Harli Howard, 5, Webb City Margaret Tuit, 92, Joplin

Thomas Russell Howard, 29, Webb City Michael E. Tyndall, 33, Joplin

Jane E. Jaynes, 86, Joplin Darian D. Vanderhoofven, 45, Joplin

Melisa R. Johnson, 50, Carthage Joshua D. Vanderhoofven, 1, Joplin

Cheryl L. Jones, 39, Altamont, Kansas Miguel Vazquez-Castillo, 28, Joplin

Kathy S. Keling, 53, Joplin Miles Wells, 49, Webb City

James D. Kendrick, 63, Joplin Tiera Whitley, 20, Fulton, Kansas

Geneva Koler, 84, Joplin Zach Williams, 12, Joplin

Tedra J. Kuhn, 69, 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 are encouraged to 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.

Akin to vote no on debt limit increase

Rep. Todd Akin, R-Mo. who is challenging Claire McCaskill for U. S. Senate, says he will vote against increasing the debt limit tonight. From the news release:

Honoring President Obama’s request, House Republican leadership have scheduled a vote tonight on increasing the $14.3 trillion debt ceiling – with no tax increases or spending reductions attached.

In a statement today, Akin said:

“This is the vote that the President asked for, but it will not be the result he wants.

“The American people are fed up with an endless diet of debt-backed spending. I, and many other representatives, will not be voting for yet another increase in the debt limit.

“Without ensuring that we cut our annual deficit, cap spending and make a solid, long-term balanced budget plan, it is simply foolish to continue to increase the nation’s debt limit.”

Nine days after tornado, Home Depot back in business

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch highlights Home Depot, which is back in business only nine days after the tornado hit Joplin:

Home Depot employees in orange vests were busy helping customers Tuesday in the parking lot of the Joplin store flattened just nine days ago by a tornado.

There wasn't a lot to choose from just yet, but the store's reopening and quick sales of roofing material, lumber and other necessities showed city residents' determination to begin rebuilding quickly after the May 22 tornado that cut a 6-mile swath through the heart of this community of nearly 50,000 residents. Home Depot itself already has a 30,000-square-foot temporary building framed and expected to open within a couple of weeks. Until then, it's selling a smaller selection of urgently needed products from an outdoor area in the parking lot.

"We're trying to let people know we're not just a retail store to take their money. We're here," store manager Steve Cope said.

Former Sarcoxie principal to work at Joplin tornado fundraiser in KC

Former Sarcoxie High School Principal Phil Lewis are going to help with a pancake supper and lock-in tonight at Staley High School in the North Kansas City School District. The proceeds will go Joplin High School.

Both of the homes where Phil and Kathy Lewis lived while they were in Joplin were destroyed by the tornado.

My former colleague at Diamond, Rob Lundien, who now works in the North Kansas City School District, writes, "Almost 300 students signed up for the event, and we are projected to make around $3,000 for the Joplin rebuilding efforts. While at the lock-in tonight, in addition to many fun activities, the kids are making cards and letters for each of the Joplin HS Staff. These cards and letters will be given to the JHS Staff at the beginning of the school year in August
A big thanks to the students and staff at Staley High School.

State representatives: Joplin aid dollars should go through Rebuild Joplin

In a letter sent out earlier today, the state legislators from the Joplin area said all aid for the tornado-stricken city should go through RebulidJoplin.org, the website established by Bright Futures. The letter was signed by Sen. Ron Richard and representatives Tom Flanigan, Charlie Davis, Mike Kelley, Bill Lant, Bill Reiboldt, and Bill White:

Dear Friends,

In Joplin, we have felt your thoughts and prayers. Thank you for your compassion, your contributions and your willingness to help.

A Bright Futures team from Joplin has launched a website called RebuildJoplin.org. This website is a comprehensive resource for people affected by the storm AND for those who wish to help.

If you are able to help, please consider going to the website and get connected with verified agencies.

Also, please help us spread the word that RebuildJoplin.org is the primary website for sending help to Joplin. It’s by Joplin, for Joplin.

These agencies and resources are screened and verified. RebuildJoplin.org is endorsed by the City of Joplin, Joplin Schools, Joplin Area Chamber of Commerce and United Way 2-1-1.

RebuildJoplin.org, an initiative launched by Bright Futures, will adjust to the changing needs of community relief efforts. Joplin Schools created Bright Futures as a grass roots, community based program that creates partnerships and utilizes community resources for the common goal of helping our kids and strengthening our families and community. In the wake of the destruction, Bright Futures is adapting a successful program to meet the needs of those impacted by the tornado.

Friends, I ask that you please disseminate this information to your contact list so we can spread the word as quickly as possible, as far as possible. Together we can rebuild Joplin.

A local contact person with Rebuildjoplin.org is Garen McMillian 417-483-5136

Empire District Electric estimates storm repair cost at $20 to $30 million

In a news release filed last week with the SEC, Joplin-based Empire District Electic Company suspended its quarterly dividend and estimated storm repair costs at $20 million to $30 million:

The Empire District Electric Company (NYSE:EDE) announced today that the Company’s Board of Directors will be suspending the quarterly dividend for the remainder of 2011. This action was forced due to the impact of the devastating tornado that hit the area on May 22. Based on current conditions and knowledge, the Board of Directors currently expects that the dividend will be re-established at an approximate level of $0.25 per quarter after a two quarter suspension. The Board believes this dividend level will allow the Company to grow the dividend as the Joplin area recovers.

The Company estimates that approximately 8,000 to 10,000 residential, commercial, and industrial customers have damaged or destroyed structures that will not be ready for service in the foreseeable future. This loss of homes and businesses will result in a significant loss of revenue estimated to be approximately 10 to 15 percent of load. In addition, Empire currently estimates the cost of storm repairs to be $20 to $30 million and is evaluating facilities that may be covered by insurance.

The suspension of the dividend payments will not affect the dividend declared on April 28, 2011, to be paid on June 15, 2011 to shareholders of record on June 1, 2011.

“We understand and know the suspension of the dividend will cause a hardship for many of our shareholders and are sorry for that. This catastrophic event has impacted many lives in our community. We are focused on getting our customers back on service as quickly as we safely can. We are dedicated to helping our neighbors and community rebuild and know that reliable electric service is a vital part of that process,” said Bill Gipson, president and CEO.

Gipson continued, “We are overwhelmed with the outpouring of assistance to our Company and to our employees. We thank everyone who has been so thoughtful and generous.”

Friday services set for Dee Ann Hayward, Sunday school teacher, killed in tornado

(The following obituary is taken from the Derfelt Funeral Home website.)

Dee Ann Hayward, age 47, 302 E 22nd St, died Sunday evening, May 22, 2011 in the tornado that struck Joplin Missouri.

Dee Ann was born August 25, 1963 in Glendora, California. Her parents were James Robert and Bernice Lee (Brady) Kelly. She had lived in Galena since 1977.

She graduated from Galena High School in 1981. She had worked the past 4 years for Hallmark Card Co maintaining card displays in area Wal Mart Stores. She was a member of Riverton Friends Church, Riverton, KS where she had been a Sunday school teacher. She had traveled to Brazil and Jamaica on different missionary journeys. She loved music and collected several recordings. Dee Ann had a very kind heart, always looking for ways she could help people.

She was married to Jim C. Hayward on May 26, 1984 in Galena, KS. He survives.

Also surviving are two sons, Robert Glen Hayward and Caleb Grant Hayward, one daughter, Christina Gail Hayward, all of the home; her mother, Bernice Kelly, Seneca, MO; two brothers, Michael Brady Kelly, Redding , CA and Kenneth J Kelly, Seneca, MO; one sister Patricia Gail Penn, Nice, CA; and her father-in-law, Jack Hayward, Baxter Springs, KS.

Her father preceded her in death.

Funeral services will be at 2:00 pm, Friday June 3, 2011 at the Riverton Friends Church, Riverton KS. Pastor Wes Davis and Truman Brady will officiate. Burial will be in Quaker Hill Cemetery, Riverton, KS.

The family will receive friends from 7:00 -8:00 pm, Thursday, June 2 at Derfelt Funeral Home, Galena, KS.

AP Video: Memorial Day in Joplin

Tree damage in Joplin tornado described in New York Times story

The severe damage done to Joplin's trees is outlined in a story in today's New York Times:

Stripped bare by the swirling wind — as if ravaged by wildfire — their remains stand sentinel over a wasteland, with the unnatural leaf litter of a residential neighborhood spread below them. In some, debris is perched in jagged branches like vultures.

The trees that surrendered to the winds of more than 200 miles per hour became weapons of destruction, the trunks crumpling cars and houses and the branches sailing off as missiles. In the aftermath they became obstacles, blocking roads and complicating recovery efforts with the weight of their many years until they were broken by chain saws, to be hauled away and burned in massive pyres on the outskirts of town.

The established urban canopy was one of the charms of Joplin, a shady reminder of the old-growth forest that was here before the discovery of the lead deep beneath their roots that led to the settling of the city. In the old neighborhood around Cunningham Park, the passage of time had worn the century-old homes but swelled the trees that shaded the streets, lending an upscale air to a modest neighborhood of blue-collar workers.

Those still standing, too damaged to survive, will have to be cut down. “That’s part of the tragedy, too,” said Brad Belk, director of the Joplin Museum Complex. “Not only did we lose lives, home and businesses, but we lost our green spaces.”

Billy Long: FEMA response a 12 on a scale of 1 to 10

Seventh District Congressman Billy Long praised the response of FEMA officials to the Joplin tornado:

"On a scale of one to 10, they are a 12," he said. "I think they are doing an excellent job."

The agency took considerable heat after a slow and uncoordinated response to Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

FEMA had representatives on the ground as early as Monday and by Thursday deputy secretaries from Health and Human Services, Housing and Urban Development and the Small Business Administration had also arrived to assess needs, Long said.

Long said he was also thrilled that President Obama came, as it was important for the president to see the damage himself.

Long said he is doing his best to help constituents who have met with him or contacted his office for help or intervention.

Report: Long wait before final tornado death toll is announced

An article in today's Springfield News-Leader quotes state officials as saying it will be a long time before a final death toll in the May 22 tornado that struck Joplin will be announced:

Because of the difficulty in identifying multiple sets of remains following the deadly, May 22 tornado, Joplin officials on Monday said it will be some time before a final death toll is released.

The identification problem also has caused some backtracking from totals reported previously.

Although officials and media outlets had said at least 139 people were killed -- and some had upped that number to 142 -- the only official number released Monday was 101.

That appears likely to increase but officials are not risking overstatements.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Huff: 100 percent of students, staff accounted for

The search for members of the Joplin R-8 family ended Friday, with eight members killed in the May 22 tornado, Superintendent Dr. C. J. Huff said this afternoon at a gathering of the district employees, parents, and students, held in the parking lot at Joplin High School, which was destroyed during the tornado May 22.

"At 3:16 last Friday, I received a text message that indicated that mission was complete. As a result of your diligence and unlaboring fortitude in the face of insurmountable challenges, 100 percent of our family are accounted for," Superintendent Dr. C. J. Huff said.

"Today we grieve the loss of eight members of our family. We lost seven children and one educator and today we celebrate that we are all together again in body and eternal spirit," Dr. Huff said.
"Schools are at the heart of every community," Huff said, and pointed that the schools are helping lead the charge in rebuilding the community.

Huff also reassured staff that the loss of buildings would not also result in the loss of jobs.

"We need you now more than ever," Huff said.

School will be back in session June 13 when summer school starts, Huff said. Construction began at East Middle School Thursday and all students will be back in class when August 17 arrives, Huff said.

Franklin Graham: God has not forgotten Joplin

Rev. Franklin Graham, son of the famed evangelist Billy Graham, was in Joplin with supplies and ministering to those who needed help. In this audio clip, Graham is :

Latest information from city of Joplin released

(From the City of Joplin)

Press Conference set for 3 p.m. on Tuesday, May 31 at the front area of the Dr. Donald E. Clark Public Safety and Justice Center, 303 East 3rd, Joplin.

A complete list of Tornado Recovery information can be found on the City of Joplin website. http://www.joplinmo.org/tornadoinfo.cfm

The alphabetical list contains contact information and specifics for those affected by the tornado, where to find assistance and other vital information. This information will be updated as needed.

As of 4 p.m., Monday, May 30, the Department of Public Safety reports 146 remains are housed in the temporary morgue and 29 people remain unaccounted for.

The search and recovery phase is continuing. Phase five is underway and following that a sixth search will be conducted.

Phase one of debris removal is expected to begin later this week and is being coordinated by FEMA and the Army Corp of Engineers. All debris removal and demolition work must be done by contractors licensed by City of Joplin and done under the guidance of an approved monitor.

Residents are reminded to use debris removal guidelines and separate the debris into piles along the curbing but not to block the roadway.

Per private insurance policies, residents are asked to follow their guidelines and when possible, begin moving personal belongings to a secure location. Do not place personal belongings along curbside. This is for the debris.

The City of Joplin is coordinating volunteer efforts in conjunction with AmeriCorps and the United Way. Since Monday, 6,934 registered volunteers have contributed to search and rescue as well as debris removal operations, providing 27,833 hours of service.

FEMA is asking landlords to register rental property by calling 800-621-FEMA.

The subsidized bulky items drop-off program at Allied Waste Transfer Station is temporarily suspended. Residents in “unaffected tornado damage area” are still able to set bulky items at the curb for weekly trash service.

Trash service is delayed by one day due to Memorial Day holiday. Monday’s customers will have service on Tuesday and so on, using Saturday as Friday’s service date.

Joplin City Council cancels June 6 meeting

(From the City of Joplin)

The City Council meeting scheduled for Monday, June 6, 2011 has been cancelled due to the disaster. The council will resume its regular schedule on Monday, June 20.

For more information, contact the Joplin City Clerk at 417-624-0820, ext. 220 or ext. 221.

City of Joplin suspends bulky items dropoff program

(From the city of Joplin)

The City of Joplin announces the temporary suspension of the subsidized bulky items drop-off program at the Allied Waste Transfer Station in Galena. This closing is due to the May 22, 2011 tornado event, and because the rules, funding, safety and premise of the bulky items program no longer exist. Effective May 31, 2011, residents will no longer be able to bring their bulky items and tree limbs to the Allied Waste Transfer Station. This suspension will continue until June 30, 2011, and may be extended.

The City apologizes for any inconvenience, but reminds residents in the “unaffected tornado damage area” they are still able to set bulky items at the curb for weekly trash service. Such items consist of furniture; mattresses; televisions; microwave ovens; carpet that has been bundled to 50 pounds maximum, four feet maximum; and tree limbs and brush bundled and cut to four foot maximum lengths, minimum 50 pounds. Residents must contact Allied Waste at 800-431-1507 to request this free service.

The City of Joplin residential trash pickup schedule will change due to the Memorial Day holiday. On Memorial Day, Monday, May 29, residential trash will NOT be picked up. Customers who usually have trash picked up on Mondays will have their trash picked up on Tuesday, May 30. For the remainder of the week of May 29th through June 4th, the residential trash collection will move forward one day with Tuesday’s customers having Wednesday pick-up, and so on, through Saturday, June 4th which will be Friday’s collection day. Allied Waste is making every effort to pick up the trash in the unaffected area and are able to pick up trash in some of the affected area. Due to traffic issues, Allied will be running these residential routes before 6 a.m., therefore trash should be set trash out the night before.

Once FEMA and The Army Corp. of Engineers contractors start the clean up and collection process, public information will be disseminated similar to the drawing on the opposite side.

The Joplin Recycling Center and Leaf and Grass Drop-Off area is closed until further notice due to the staff and resources being reassigned. Cardboard, office paper, newspaper, container glass, plastic bottles and metal cans can be recycled at Joplin Waste Paper, 3178 North Kentucky on Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Many other recycling centers are available throughout Joplin, Carthage and Pittsburg, Kansas. For a complete listing, consult the city’s website at www.joplinmo.org.

All of the free wood chip giveaway events are also cancelled until further notice.

Tuesday services for mother, son killed in Joplin tornado

(The following obituaries are taken from the Lugenbuel Funeral website.)
Marsha Ann Frost

32, a resident of Joplin, Missouri, passed away May 22, 2011 in the tornado of Joplin, Missouri. She was born July 10, 1978 at Lincoln, Arkansas, the daughter of Larry Joe and Ruth Esther Young Winkler.

She was a member of the Christian Life Center in Joplin. Marsha had been employed by Walmart in Bentonville, Arkansas.

Survivors include one son, Gabriel Frost of the home; her parents Larry Joe and R. Esther Winkler of Neosho, Missouri; one brother Larry Winkler II of Neosho, Missouri; two sisters, Bethany Burton of Joplin, Missouri and Christina Winkler of Neosho, Missouri; Paternal grandparents Willis & JoAnne Winkler of Lincoln, Arkansas; a maternal grandmother, Nedra Ann Johnson of Lincoln, Arkansas.

Sebastian Charles Frost

10 a resident of Joplin, Missouri passed away May 22, 2011 in the tornado of Joplin. He was born March 4, 2001 at Boonville, Missouri, the son of Marsha Winkler Frost.

Sebastian was a member of the Christian Life Center in Joplin, Missouri.

Survivors include one brother, Gabriel Frost of the home; his father Roger Frost of Moberly, Missouri; maternal grandparents’ Larry & Esther Winkler of Neosho, MO; maternal great-grandparents’ Willis & JoAnne Winkler of Lincoln, Arkansas; maternal great great-grandmother Nedra Ann Johnson of Lincoln, Arkansas; paternal grandparents’ Gary and Connie Whitehurse of Boonville, Missouri; paternal great-grandmother Betty Wells of Boonville, Missouri.

Funeral Service will be held Tuesday, May 31, 2011 - 11:00 A.M. at the Christian Life Center - 1700 S. Prosperity - Joplin, Missouri. Rev. Tony Stoddart and Rev. David McBride officiating. Interment will be in the Bethesda Cemetery near Morrow, Arkansas. Graveside services will not be held at the cemetery.

Memorials may be made to any Arvest Bank locations under the Frost Memorial Fund, account # 22329963.

Arrangements are under the direction of the Luginbuel Funeral Home of Prairie Grove, Arkansas.

Hartford Courant columnist, Webb City native, offers first-hand observations of Joplin

Webb City High School graduate Susan Campbell, a columnist for the Hartford Courant, returned to her home area this week to offer first-hand reports on the tornado:

I realized as I drove down historic Route 66 that I was reciting -- to myself, which is weird -- the name of the business that once stood on that corner, the sisters who lived in that house. One of our old houses was torn down, and replaced by a modular home. I marked that in my head.

I got all the way out to Carterville Cemetery before I realized what I was doing. I'm making a mental map. One of the most disorienting things about driving through the broken parts of Joplin is losing my way. I know these streets. I know the churches, the strip malls, the restaurants, but everything for nearly a mile-wide stretch is splinters and insulation and rocks. There are no markers, no street signs, nothing but devastation. I was driving down Range Line yesterday and realized with a start I didn't know where I was.

So, without meaning to be ghoulish -- though it really kind of is -- I went to Carterville and Webb City, where I spent my girlhood, and made note of the places that used to be there, the families that have long since gone. The Johnsons, the Helton sisters, Mrs. Green, who used to yell at the Campbell kids. Mr. Swiss, Carl's Market, Dr. Ferguson's, Grandma Marrs.

There is no town that's untouched by this. If there was no physical damage, the psychic damage goes deep. I know people who haven't left their homes since Sunday. I know people for whom today's stiff wind was a problem. The healing will begin. These are tough people, most of them, and it may take a long time, but Lord.

Joplin School District: Seven students, one teacher killed

From the Joplin School District:

We have been able to account for the status of 100% of our students and staff. We grieve the loss of 8 members of our family - 7 children and 1 educator.

Joplin Schools Operation Center

Joplin North Middle School
102 N. Gray Avenue
Joplin, MO 64801
(417) 625-5270


We are committed to beginning the 2011-2012 school year on time, 79 days from now on Aug. 17. We are partnering with Crossland Construction, R. E. Smith, and PLJBD Architects to meet this goal.

Demolition of the damaged portion of East Middle School began May 26, 2011. The affected areas of East are being removed and reconstruction will begin as soon as possible. Governor Jay Nixon provided assistance in expediting this process. Reconstruction efforts have also begun at Cecil Floyd Elementary and the administration building.

We received an initial $5,000,000 from Traveler’s Insurance to begin our reconstruction efforts.

The damage to our district's schools was devastating.

• Three school buildings were destroyed, including our high school.

• Three schools were severely damaged.

• Two schools have possible roof damage.

• Several district support facilities sustained some damage.

• The remaining 11 buildings were not damaged.


Monetary donations for the district are also being accepted. Checks can be made out to -

Joplin Schools Tornado Relief Fund

Attn. Kim Vann
102 N. Gray Avenue
Joplin, MO 64801

US Bank has also set up the ability for anyone across the country to donate to Joplin Schools by dropping off their donation by any US Bank.


Rebuildjoplin.org is live. This site provides a master list of resources available for those affected or those wanting to help. Its an initiative by Bright Futures to serve those affected by the May 22 tornado

Summer Send-Off Events

Each building will host a summer send-off event for staff and students. Students will be able to pick up personal belongings, turn in books and reconnect with classmates and teachers.

South Middle School - Wednesday, June 1, 10 a.m. - 3 p.m. at South MS. Pizza will be served.

Jefferson Elementary – Wednesday, June 1, 1-3 p.m. in the cafeteria at Jefferson.

Irving Elementary - Thursday, June 2, 3-5 p.m. at South Middle School.

Kelsey Norman Elementary– Friday, June 3 from 9-11 a.m. at Kelsey Norman.

Additional dates will be announced at a later time.

Summer School

Open enrollment for summer school will begin on Tuesday, May 31 and will take place until Friday, June 10. Families may enroll students in person at Stapleton Elementary School or Memorial Education Center from 8:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. daily, or by phone at 417-625-5290.

Students previously enrolled in middle school or high school summer school must re-enroll. Families with elementary students who previously enrolled need to contact the district only if their enrollment status has changed. Please call us at 417-625-5290 with any changes.

Elementary summer school will take place from June 13 to July 29 at West Central, Stapleton and McKinley. Students enrolled in summer school at Cecil Floyd will attend Stapleton and students enrolled at Emerson will attend McKinley. Hours will be 7:45 a.m. to 2:45 p.m.

Summer school for middle school students will take place at South Middle School from June 13 to July 1. Hours will be 8:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.

Summer school for high school credit recovery students will take place at South Middle School from June 13 to July 1. Hours will be 9:00 to 11:45 a.m. and 12:15 to 3:00 p.m.

All students will receive free breakfast and lunch and transportation will be provided. Pick-up and drop-off locations will be determined by enrollment.

Bruce Lievens, auction clerk, killed in Joplin tornado

(The following obituary was taken from the Clark Funeral Home website.)

Bruce Allen Lievens, 48, Joplin, died Sunday, May 22, 2011, from injuries sustained in the Joplin tornado.

He was born December 18, 1962, in Moline, IL to James Lee Lievens and Darlene Kay (Kelso) Lievens.

Bruce moved to the Neosho area in 1975 from Illinois where he had worked in the family business of Circle L-Auctions Service as an auction clerk for over 30 years, He was an avid sports fan, loved being with his family and also buying and selling antiques.

He is survived by his parents James and Darlene Lievens of Neosho; two brother, Bart Lievens, Seneca, Brett and wife Roxanne Lievens, Neosho; two sisters, Brenda Boyd and companion Mike Larson, Neosho, Betsy and Gabe Shorter, Neosho; 13 nieces and nephews, Marquise, LaKyne, Jake, Mark, Dakota, Garrett, Cara, Carinna, Trevor, Seth, Grace, Hollie and Katlyn; and his best friends Rick and Giselle Scott.

The family will receive friends from 4 pm to 6 pm on Wednesday, June 1, 2011 at the Clark Funeral Home, Neosho. There will be a prayer service at 6 pm on Wednesday, June 1, 2011 at the Clark Funeral Home, Neosho. Officiating will be Fr. Hank Grodecki, C.M.. Following the services, the body will be cremated.

The family has requested for contributions in Bruce’s honor be made to the Missouri Ozark Cerebral Palsy, in care of Clark Funeral Homes, PO Box 66, Neosho, MO 64850.

Arrangements are under the direction of Clark Funeral Home, Neosho, MO.

Thursday services set for LaBarge employee Heather Terry, tornado victim

Heather Leigh Terry, 36, Joplin, died May 22, 2011 from injuries sustained in the May 22, 2011, tornado.

Heather was born Feb. 16, 1975 in Aurora, MO, attended Aurora Schools and was a lifelong area resident. She currently worked at La Barge in Joplin. Heather married Michael Duane Terry on March 20, 2010 at Miami, OK and he survives. Additional survivors include her mother, Vicky Baum, Joplin; her father, Rex Baum, Carterville; her sister, Erin Baum-Smith, Joplin; two nieces, Bayleigh Smith and Ashleigh Smith and her maternal grandmother, Juanita Channel, Granby.

Services will be Thursday, June 2, 2011 at 1:00 pm at the Clark Funeral Home, Granby, Dr. Jerry Seigel will officiate. Interment will be in the Newtonia IOOF Cemetery and serving as pallbearers will be Jeremy Phillips, Robert Hughes, Ryan Phillips, Trevor Hughes, Josh Larrison and Rex Baum.

Friends may call at the Clark Funeral Home, Granby on Wed. from 9 am until 7 pm, the family will receive friends from 6 to 7 pm Wed. evening at the funeral home. The casket will be closed at all times.

Contributions in memory of Heather may be made to the Heather Terry Memorial Fund to assist her family in reestablishing their homes.

Arrangements are under the direction of Clark Funeral Home, Granby, MO.

Sing Again- Video featuring Joplin tornado photos

One of the most powerful moments in a day full of powerful moments Sunday was immediately following the 5:41 p.m. moment of silence when singer/songwriter Mark Laperle's song, "Sing Again," given especially to the city of Joplin, was broadcast on all Zimmer radio stations and on public address systems scattered across the city.

A YouTube video featuring this song was posted today and accompanies this post:

Today's Department of Public Safety news conference

Royals, fans give to Joplin tornado relief

Nixon: What's happening in Joplin is nothing short of heroic

(The following is Gov. Jay Nixon's Memorial Day message.)

Today, we collectively pause from our daily routines to honor those who make our freedom possible – our military families and veterans. In particular, we pay homage to those who made the ultimate sacrifice on our behalf.

Missouri is home to more than 500,000 veterans, military personnel and National Guardsmen, including thousands of brave men and women who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan. Sadly, not all of these brave, young Missourians made it back home to their families.

Each of these lives ended far too soon. And each of these funerals is heartbreaking in its own way. When I look into the eyes of the children who lost their parents – or the parents who lost their children – I tell them: we are forever in your debt. And I put an arm around their shoulder.

While every Memorial Day holds special meaning, this year, we also keep the people of Joplin in our hearts and in our prayers. The tornado that struck Joplin last week has left a deadly path of destruction the likes of which we’ve never seen before, an unspeakable tragedy.

Yesterday, I welcomed President Obama to Joplin for a memorial service to remember and honor those who lost their lives and pray for those who have such a long recovery ahead. In my remarks, I told the people of Joplin: “You have given new meaning to ‘Love thy neighbor.’”

From this historic tornado has arisen a historic spirit of resilience. Thousands of volunteers have joined the Missouri National Guard, working around the clock to help the displaced families put the pieces of their shattered lives back together. Families who had their own homes destroyed are taking time to help their neighbors. This community has come together – random acts of kindness at every turn.

What’s happening in Joplin right now is nothing short of heroic.

This Memorial Day, let’s remember to love thy neighbor – not just with kind words and well wishes, but also with action. So please consider taking time to volunteer in your community, lending a hand to a veteran in need or helping our neighbors in Joplin with a contribution to the Red Cross.

Clips from KZRG Joplin tornado coverage featured

For most of us, having only battery-powered radios to get our information, the only source of information after the tornado hit Joplin was KZRG. This clip from KZRG's YouTube account, offers video and audio from the coverage. All Zimmer radio stations in Joplin have been simulcasting news coverage ever since 4 p.m. Sunday, May 22, when the first tornado warnings were issued. Zimmer's music stations will return to their regular formats this week.

Wednesday services for railroad worker; killed in tornado

Gene Smith, age 71, of Joplin, Mo. passed away Sunday, May 22, 2011 from injuries sustained in the Joplin tornado.

Gene was born November 24, 1939 in Webb City, Mo. He had lived in the Joplin-Webb City area all his life. Gene was employed with the Union Pacific Railroad for 24 years. He was a U.S. Army veteran and served 29 years with the National Guard and Naval Reserves. Gene was a member of the Webb City Church of the Nazarene. He was also a member of the Joplin Eagle’s Lodge, and the Greater Joplin U.S. Bowling Congress. He loved Webb City Football and the St. Louis Cardinals.

Gene married Donna Gunlock August 10, 1973 in Webb City, Mo. and she survives. Additional survivors include one son, Jeff Smith, Joplin, one daughter, Robin Shember and husband James, Webb City, and two grandsons, Nick and John Shember.

Services will be at 3:00 p.m. Wednesday at the Webb City Church of the Nazarene with Pastor Jim Martin officiating. Burial will follow with Military Honors at the Webb City Cemetery. The family will receive friends from 6-7 p.m. Tuesday at the Hedge-Lewis Chapel. Arrangements have been entrusted to the Hedge-Lewis Funeral Home of Webb City, Mo.

Friday services set for second grader, father killed in tornado

(The following obituary information is taken from the Mason-Woodard website.)

Moises Carmona, age 42, and his daughter, Arriyinnah, age 8, of Joplin, passed away Sunday, May 22, 2011 from injuries sustained in the Joplin tornado.

Moises was born September 12, 1969 in Jabonera, Chihuahua, Mexico. He had lived in Joplin since 2001, moving here from Albuquerque, New Mexico. Moises was a heavy equipment operator with Anchor Stone Co., east of Joplin. He was a member of the Joplin Full Gospel Church.

Moises married Kari Patten October 24, 2001 in Albuquerque and she survives. Additional survivors include two daughters, Marisela, and Adriennah “Audrey” Carmona, both of the home, three brothers, Abraham, Juan, and Pachino Carmona, all of Mexico, and six sisters, Manuela, Kick, Teo, Lula, Genoveva, and Lorenza, all of Mexico.

Arriyinnah Savannah Carmona, age 8, was born March 1, 2003. She was a 2nd grade student at Royal Heights Elementary School. In addition to her Mother, and sisters, Arriy is survived by her Maternal Grandfather, Joe Garcia Padilla, Elgin Ill., and her Maternal Grandmother, Carol Ballard, Joplin.

Joint services will be held at 11:00 a.m. Friday at the Northview Assembly of God Church in Webb City with Pastor John Myers officiating. Burial will follow at the Webb City Cemetery. The family will receive friends from 10:00 a.m. Friday until the service at the Church. Arrangements have been entrusted to the Hedge-Lewis Funeral Home of Webb City, Mo.

List updated: 26 still missing after tornado

The Missouri Department of Public Safety has updated its list of missing persons following the May 22 tornado. It can be found at this link.

Rohr: We will continue hoping for a miracle

(From the city of Joplin)

The City of Joplin reminds citizens that search and rescue is continuing. Mayor Mike Woolston and City Manager Mark Rohr have continually stated the local commitment to continuing this effort until the last piece of debris is removed.

“We are heartened by the prospect of a late rescue such that has occurred in other disasters,” said Rohr. “This has been a significant disaster that has affected over 30% of our City. We are here for our residents, and this effort is a priority. Realistically, the chance of finding someone is diminishing with each passing day, but we will proceed with the hope of a miracle occurring.”

According to Mitch Randles, Fire Chief, the fifth sweep using volunteer groups is taking place today using the many volunteer search and rescue groups who have been of great assistance to Joplin. Dog teams are continuing as well. If these groups find anything specific, the Emergency Operations Team dispatches a response team to verify the findings. Firefighters and heavy equipment will be used to sort and remove debris as needed.

The sixth and final sweep of the entire City will begin as soon as the fifth sweep is completed.

With that in mind, the effort to rescue survivors continues as we move into debris management phase. The City has committed to having a spotter during the debris removal process in addition to the initial spotter that is a part of the contractors’ work. The spotter’s role is to watch all debris being removed as a final attempt in the rescue effort.

Residents should also know is that debris removal is a key area for their work. As residents begin removing debris, the City reminds residents to get their personal items gathered from their home areas. If they have settled with their homeowners insurance for personal items, they can be removed. If residents are still waiting for their insurance representative to view their damage, please begin to centralize your personal belongings in order to be able to remove them efficiently once they are able to do so.

For additional updates, citizens are encouraged to visit www.facebook.com/cityofjoplin.

A Memorial Day message from Claire McCaskill

Tulsa KOTV profiles "MASH Unit" as St. John's workers keep serving after tornado

Blendville Christian Church meets across street from tornado-stricken building

The tornado that hit Joplin and destroyed their building did not stop Blendville Christian Church parishioners from holding Sunday services, as detailed in today's New York Times:

There were other, less noted services throughout the day. At the Blendville Christian Church, where 30 parishioners survived the storm, the sanctuary was mostly gone, save for the back wall where the thin metal cross above the baptistery shone under the sun. Hymnals and the remains of pews poked out of the debris. Services were held across the street this Sunday.

“Yeah it’s a tent, yeah it’s on the parking lot,” said Ron Neidert, 55, a ranch manager and congregation leader who helped with the setup. “It’s church. It’s worshiping God.”

As congregation members arrived carrying finger-worn Bibles, they embraced, exclaiming the now common refrain that would seem absurd in better times: “I’m so glad you’re alive.” One member of the congregation of 160 was killed and two dozen others, including the pastor, lost their homes.

For many it was an experience that brought their own faith into sharp relief. One man said the tornado also swept away the walls that had kept him from fully embracing God. Another listened to the service from afar, sitting on a freshly sawed tree stump, trying to make sense what role God played in all this. Some spoke of their own miracles that kept them alive.

“How many of you have prayed this week?” asked Virgil Eubanks, 60, the pastor.

A chorus of hands shot up. “Oh yeah,” he continued. “If this didn’t catch you up on your prayer life there’s something wrong with you.”

Video: Thousands of volunteers in Joplin for holiday weekend


First Sunday services held at Forest Park after tornado


Woman tells how she rode out Joplin tornado alone


Sunday, May 29, 2011

Text provided for Gov. Nixon's speech at Joplin Tornado Memorial Service

Thank you, Pastor Gariss. To the families of those who were killed and injured; to the families of those who are still unaccounted for; to the people of Joplin who have endured this terrible tragedy; to the thousands of Missourians and citizens across the nation who have opened their hearts to help us heal; to the hundreds of firefighters and emergency responders who came without hesitation to climb over piles of rubble in search of survivors; to Pastor Garris, Pastor Brown, Father Monaghan, Lieutenant Colonel Kilmer, and the wonderful choir from First United Methodist Church of Joplin; and to President Obama who is with us today – thank you all for coming.

It is an honor to be here, joining the thousands of Missourians observing this special Day of Prayer. We stand on hallowed ground, to bear witness to the destructive power of Nature and the invincible power of faith.

We have come to mourn what the storm has taken from us, to seek comfort in community, and to draw strength from God to build anew.

It seems inconceivable that just one week ago, the people of Joplin were going about their daily lives, doing the ordinary things people do on a Sunday evening: Cooking supper. Watching TV.

Walking the dog. Attending their sons’ and daughters’ graduation. And then came the whirlwind. Nearly a mile wide and six miles long, with 200-mile-an-hour winds – churning and roaring, tossing cars and toppling trees, pounding homes, businesses, schools and churches to rubble.

But that storm, the likes of which we have never seen, has brought forward a spirit of resilience –the likes of which we’ve also never seen.

What our nation has witnessed this week is the spirit of Joplin, Missouri. And we are humbled and awed by it.

You have given “Love thy neighbor” new meaning. The parable of the Good Samaritan in Luke, Chapter 10: verses 25 to 37, begins with a conversation between Jesus and a student of religious law. It starts with a legal question, and ends with a moral imperative.

The student asks Jesus, “What shall I do to inherit eternal life?” And Jesus turns the question around and asks: “What is written in the law?”

And the student, who is well-versed in the Talmud and the Torah, replies: “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, with all thy soul, with all thy strength and with all thy mind. “And thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.”

And Jesus replies: “Thou hast answered right. This do, and thou shalt live.”

But then the student, wanting greater clarity than the law provided, asks Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” And Jesus tells him the story of the Good Samaritan.

From that parable, our charge is crystal clear. Good Samaritans do not pass by those who are suffering and in need. They show their compassion with action.

In Joplin, you see Good Samaritans everywhere you turn. You see them over in the gym at this university, where hundreds of volunteers make sandwiches every day.

You seem them passing out blankets and pillows, sunscreen and flashlights to our neighbors made homeless by the whirlwind.

You need a flashlight. Because it gets pretty dark here at night – especially when you’re standing in the street, staring at the lonely pile of matchsticks that was once your home.

If you had been in the ER at St. John’s Mercy Medical Center last Sunday evening, mere moments after the tornado struck, you would have seen Good Samaritans rushing frantically to reach the wounded and the dying.

Shattered glass and bleeding patients everywhere, water and gas spewing from burst pipes, one doctor stumbled through the darkness with a flashlight in his teeth, following the wail of a wounded child.

You see Good Samaritans at every checkpoint in the destruction zone, where police officers and citizen soldiers of the Missouri National Guard keep watch over wet socks, teddy bears, cherished wedding photos and crumpled wheelchairs – all that is left of our neighbors’ worldly goods.

You see them in the churchyard, men sleeping on cots under the stars, after driving all night to get here from Tuscaloosa. These men were so touched, so moved by the kindness of strangers in their hour of need, that they just had to come to Joplin. Good Samaritans – on a mission from God.

God has chosen us for a mission, too: to grieve together, to comfort one another, to be patient with one another, to strengthen one another – and to build Joplin anew. Not just to build it back the way it was, but to make it an even better place.

We know that all those who perished here are already in an even better place. But for us, the living, there is work to do. God says: “Show me.” Show me.

The people of Missouri were born for this mission. We are famously stubborn and self-reliant.

Practical. Impatient. But whatever may divide us, we always come together in crisis.

And once our resolve is set, no storm, no fire or flood can turn us from our task.

In the pale hushed stillness before dawn, when the chainsaws have fallen silent, if you listen very closely – you can hear the sound of that resolve, like a tiny silver hammer tapping, tapping, tapping inside our heads.

In the days to come, the satellite trucks will pack up, leave town and move on. Joplin’s story will disappear from the front pages. But the tragedy will not disappear from our lives.

We will still be here in Joplin – together – preparing for the long journey out of darkness into light. And we will need more hands, more tools, more Good Samaritans at every step.

This tragedy has changed us forever. This community will never be the same. We will never be the same.

The grief we share at this moment is overwhelming. That sorrow will always be part of us, a stone upon our hearts. But those we love – those we lost – are safe with God, and safe in our hearts. And in our hearts, the joy they gave us lives on and on. Nothing can take that from us.

We can, and we will, heal. We’ve already begun. Together, we can, and we will, rebuild – upon a granite foundation of faith. What we build on this hallowed ground will be a living monument to those we lost: mothers, fathers, our precious children.

It will be a monument to the will and determination of the hundreds of men, women and yes, even children, who helped their neighbors dig out of the ruins – a monument to the search and rescue crews who came swiftly to aid the quick, and the dead.

By God’s grace, we will restore this community. And by God’s grace, we will renew our souls.

One year from today, Joplin will look different. And more different still in two years, and in three years, and in five.

But as the years pass, the moral of our story will be the same: love thy neighbor. May God bless.

AP raw video of moment of silence for tornado victims

Video: Nixon, President Obama speak at memorial service

East Middle School seventh grader Zach Williams, 12, killed in tornado

Death struck East Middle School one week ago as the tornado that ripped through Joplin took the life of seventh grader Zach Williams.

I was never lucky enough to have Zach in my class. That would have happened this fall.

The obituary information below is taken from the Bradford Funeral Home website.

Zachary Allen Williams was born June 19, 1998 at Fort Leonard Wood Memorial Community Hospital in Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri to Franklin Eugene Williams and Tammy Renee Clark Niederhelman. He lost his life in the tornado at Joplin, Missouri, Sunday evening, May 22, 2011 making his age 12 years 11 months and 3 days.

Zach was a student at East Middle School in Joplin where he attended the 7th grade. He attended the Calvary Baptist Church in Joplin. Zach was a happy person who would strike up a conservation with anyone. He enjoyed hot wheel cars, legos, riding his bike, and spending time with his friends. He was looking forward to his summer vacation, so he could spend more time with family and read more of his favorite books.

He is preceded in death by his great grandpa’s, Howard Jackson and R.L. Clark, great great grandfather Pearl Jaco, great grandmother Maxine Clark, great great grandmother Gladys Jaco.

Zach is survived by his mother Tammy Niederhelman and husband Tony of Joplin, Missouri; his father Frank Williams and wife Valerie of Mayesville, North Carolina, brother Andy Williams of Mayesville, North Carolina, grandparents Earnest and Kathy Clark of Summersville, Missouri; grandparents Jim and Kathleen Williams of Summersville, Missouri, Helen and Frank Jones of Terre Haute, Indiana; great grandmother Lillie Jackson of Summersville, MO, uncle’s and aunt’s, Chad and Billie Clark and children, Austin and Brittani and future son-in-law Levi of Nesho, MO, Jim Williams of Tulsa, Oklahoma, Warren Williams and wife Vicki of St. Louis, Missouri, Cindy Heller Springfield, Missouri, several great uncles and aunts, cousins and friends.

Memorial Services will be held Monday, May 30, 2011 at 1 Pm at Bradford Funeral Home Chapel with Rev. Gary Jackson officiating. Visitation will begin at 11 AM on Monday until service time at 1PM. Arrangements under the care of Bradford Funeral Home of Summersville.

Video: Coverage of moment of silence for Joplin tornado victims

Cunningham's Student Protection Act would have hampered teachers in efforts to find students after tornado

(This post was first published Wednesday, but there was some confusion about Sen. Cunningham's bills. I have put links to the Amy Hestir Student Protection Act and SB 222 (the child labor bill). With all of the stories surrounding the tornado over this past week, this is something that appeared likely to fall between the cracks and if it does, that would be a shame. If Sen. Cunningham's bill, which passed both houses, but has yet to be signed by Gov. Nixon, was in effect when the tornado hit, there would be hundreds of students who we would not been able to track down as quickly, if at all. Even without a disaster like this, the prohibition between teachers and students communicating through social networking sites is a bad one. It does nothing to punish teachers who would be inclined to misuse the communication (sadly, these shameful people will always find a way), but it puts an unnecessary roadblock in legitimate educational uses of social networking sites and it takes away a line of communication that sometimes students need as they deal with the problems that face them at school and in life. This week, as I have talked with dozens of students on Facebook, as they try to deal with the aftermath of the tornado, has been a perfect example of that.)

For the past three days, in addition to posting as much news as I possibly can about the horrific tornado that changed the lives of Joplin residents forever, I have been doing whatever I can to help students who have been injured or had family members injured, or who have lost their homes and their belongings.

For many of them, I, or some other classroom teacher, have been a link between the current nightmarish reality and the much  more reassuring past. Some have wanted to talk to us about the tornado and some have wanted to talk to us about anything but what happened Sunday.

They have all wanted to talk and the teachers of the Joplin R-8 School District have been for them.

The glue that has held together our school community has been social networking. The school district has used its Facebook and Twitter accounts to communicate with the public, and offered its Facebook page as a means for students and staff to communicate that they are alive and well, or at least as well as can be expected in the post-apocalyptic existence in which we find ourselves.

Many students and parents, however, do not make a habit of checking out the school district's Facebook page. That is one of those official pages that teenagers avoid like the plague.

They do check in with their Facebook friends, and during these last few days, as Joplin R-8 staff began the recovery process by trying to account for every student, Mark Zuckerberg's creation was a godsend.

Teachers contacted their student Facebook friends and thus were able to make sure they were all right, and to cross them off a long list so we can continue our quest to make sure that every one of our students is safe.

Earlier today, I helped find about a dozen Joplin High School freshmen who had been unaccounted for, because they were on my lengthy list of students and former students who have added me as a Facebook friend.

Had this tornado happened a few months later, this would not have been possible. When Aug. 28 arrives, I and every Missouri teacher will have to remove all students and former students (until they graduate from high school) from our Facebook friend list.

The so-called Amy Hestir Student Protection Act, SB 54 which has been pushed by Sen. Jane Cunningham, R-Chesterfield, for the past few years, finally passed this year, incredibly with no opposition, not even one vote against it, in either the Senate or the House.

After all, what right thinking legislator could vote in favor of those horrible, perverted classroom teachers who apparently, though I have never seen any evidence of it, lurk around every corner, in every Missouri public school, waiting for opportunities to strip impressionable children of their innocence.

I cannot even to begin to fathom the kind of thinking that leads anyone, much less a state senator and Congressional candidate, to bear such loathing and disgust for people who put their hearts and souls into helping children succeed. What kind of a mind is cluttered with such disturbing images?

The Amy Hestir Student Protection Act is an unnecessary bill. It is purportedly a means to tightening lax laws that permit teachers to go from school district to school district sexually violating students. Obviously, it does happen, though Mrs. Cunningham's continuous effort to make it seem that there are perverts behind every classroom door, would make you think that it is an everyday occurrence.

It is not and we teachers, more than anyone, including Jane Cunningham, want those who bring shame to our profession removed from the classroom forever. And thankfully, we already have strong laws, toughened just about 15 years ago to take care of these people. Those who are "passing the trash" as Mrs. Cunningham so eloquently puts it, are already breaking the law.

And why in the world did she think it was necessary to bar students and teachers from communicating through Facebook? Is her mind so steeped in filth that she cannot imagine that there are educational purposes to social networking, and that some of the children she insists she is protecting, the same children whose protections she would have eliminated with SB 222 (you know, the one that would have struck down child labor laws) are the ones who most need a friend who is there to help and protect them?

This bill is not a law yet. Gov. Jay Nixon has not signed it. It should be vetoed, but since 2012 is an election year, it would be hard to vote against toughening laws against the hordes of perverted classroom teachers in Missouri.

But considering what has happened in Joplin the past three days, and the importance that someone show children how to use social networking responsibly, the governor must use his power to veto legislation.
We all hope and pray that no other school district ever has to suffer what Joplin has suffered this week. But if it does happen, school officials and classroom teachers should have the most powerful tools at their disposal.

We keep on hearing how our students need to be prepared for the challenges of the 21st Century. They will never be able to meet those challenges as long as those who make the laws continue to believe that all good things in society ended with the Puritans.

(Note: In an earlier version of this post, I suggested that Gov. Nixon use the line item veto.A reader pointed out something to me that I should have remembered. The line item veto can only be used on budget items. Therefore, it does not apply to this bill. The whole thing has to be vetoed or the prohibition will go into effect Aug. 28.)