The May 22 EF-5 tornado which tore through Joplin, Mo. has brought in volunteers and emergency workers from all over the United States including Cherokee County.
Cherokee County Emergency Management Director Jason Allison said he has taken emergency management and volunteer crews to Joplin on more than one occasion since the first night. Allison said they first went to the area on May 22, right after the tornado, and May 23 with a crew of 25 to 30 and were assisting with the search and rescue efforts.
Allison said the next time the crew headed over to assist was May 27. He said they took a 35-man team to continue helping with the search and rescue and to help with debris removal.
He said he took a crew of 18 over on Monday to help with another pass of the search area to try and help find some of the remaining missing people in Joplin.
Allison said the search and rescue efforts have been going well. He said search and rescue would more than likely have been finished up Wednesday. He said they were making their sixth pass over the area to try and locate anyone left in the rubble.
Allison said they will not be going back to Joplin with crews unless called upon.
“We don’t self-deploy,” Allison said.
He said they will be staying in touch with emergency management there and will be available to them whenever the need arises.
Allison said Cherokee County Emergency Management tries to learn from every disaster that hits the area. He said all the people who are part of the team have taken notes on what Joplin has done in this situation. Allison said Joplin has done a good job managing this disaster and says there are some things he will be addressing with his crew to make sure they are as ready as possible in the event of another disaster.
Mike Leighty was another Cherokee County resident who was involved in the aftermath of the tornado.
Leighty is part of the Community Emergency Response Team. He said this team was started after a large ice storm hit the area two years ago. He said the team has gone over twice since the disaster.
Leighty said the team has been inspecting buildings and making sure there were no longer any people inside of the torn apart structures before they were demolished. He said in the follow-up visit they found a house with a person inside that had a gas leak.
Leighty said they do have plans to go back to Joplin, but they are not sure when they will be able to.
He said the team is on a list with the Jasper County Sheriff’s Department and Emergency Management in Joplin. He said once a team has come into the area they are put on the bottom of the list and work their way back to the top.
He said it is a more organized way to run the teams in Joplin and helps to keep every team’s whereabouts known.