Thursday, May 26, 2011

Joplin begins sorting through the big tasks ahead

Thane Snider worked Wednesday in the yard of his childhood home in Joplin, Mo. A statue of St. Peter lay in the rubble as Snider looked for power tools to use in the tornado cleanup. JOPLIN, Mo. | St. John’s Regional Medical Center, ravaged by Sunday’s tornado, will be rebuilt, and Joplin schools plan to start on time in August. Volunteers by the thousands are pouring into the city to help with search and rescue, to clean up and care for the displaced.

Those were among the promising developments Wednesday. The death toll from Sunday’s EF5 tornado stands now at 125 with more than 900 injured, City Manager Mark Rohr said at an evening news conference. Tornado strength is measured by an enhanced F-scale rating from EF0 to EF5. An EF2 or higher is considered a significant tornado.

Rohr could not provide a number for people displaced or for those with no jobs to go to. As for the massive cleanup that waits, Rohr said officials were working on a plan, but could not provide specifics such as where the millions of tons of debris would go.

Power outages remain a problem. At last count, 14,000 customers were without electricity in Joplin, the Empire District Electric Co. said. About 10,000 of those were inside the tornado’s path of destruction, and they might be without service “for the foreseeable future,” the company said in a prepared statement.

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