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Death Toll From Joplin Tornado Rises; Debris Removal Moving Forward

At a press conference Thursday, Joplin City Manager Mark Rohr told reporters that the majority of the debris is gone.

“I think conservatively speaking, about 80% of the debris has been removed to date, which I think is astounding. We get a count from the Army Corps of Engineers each and every morning. We have approximately 300 lots yet to remove debris from completely. And there’s some minor work needed on additional lots, but 300 lots is the count at this point in time.”

It’s evident driving through the areas hit hardest by the tornado that real progress is being made…There are open fields now where ravaged buildings and piles of debris stood until recently. At the press conference, Rohr also gave the latest tally on the number of people who have volunteered to help in Joplin.

“Our volunteer count continues to rise within the city. Through Tuesday, we’ve had 69,088 registered volunteers help the citizens of Joplin recover from the disaster, which totals some 337,627 hours. And that number, despite the heat, continues to grow.”

As the clean-up continues, city officials are seeking input from citizens about redevelopment plans. Jane Cage chairs the Citizens Advisory Recovery Team. The group gathered input during a public meeting earlier this month and will soon announce plans for another public meeting in August. Cage says it’s important to think carefully about how the city rebuilds.

“The tornado is kind of a unique opportunity for us to re-imagine ourselves that not every city gets. We never would’ve asked for this, but now that we have it, we have to take advantage of it.”

Cage says so far, citizens have voiced a desire to see more neighborhood parks, a dog park, and more storm shelters. Cage says she hopes to have recommendations to Joplin City Council by the end of September.