August 27, 2014

Gov. Nixon keeps focus on Joplin even while eyeing northwest Missouri flooding (AUDIO)

Gov. Nixon meets with National Guard on northwest Missouri flooding/Gov's office

Governor Nixon says Missouri has had to sustain a series of blows from severe weather, with worries about summer flooding rising. Even as the governor keeps an eye on floodwaters in northwest Missouri, he remains focused on helping Joplin recover.

Nixon tells the Missourinet Missouri has had to absorb a series of blows from severe weather, with the biggest blow striking Joplin May 22nd.

“I think the most important thing we’re focused on here is making sure that the strength and the will of the people of Joplin stays upbeat the way it has over this last three and a half weeks,” says Nixon. [Read more...]

Floodwaters breach levees, heighten worry downstream (AUDIO)

A long summer of waiting and watching is underway along the Missouri River as floodwaters breach levees in northwest Missouri and southwest Iowa.

Three partial breaches of the Missouri River levee protecting Hamburg, Iowa just across the state line have given way to a full breach, a 300-foot wide hole sending floodwaters toward a secondary levee. A levee southwest of Craig breached, threatening Big Lake in northwest Missouri. And, rain is expected to fall in the area. [Read more...]

Officer struck by lightning while helping in Joplin has died

The police officer struck and severely injured by lightning while helping in the aftermath of the Joplin tornado has died.

Jefferson “Jeff” Taylor, a Riverside police officer who volunteered to go to Joplin, died Friday at a Springfield hospital. Taylor was among the dozen emergency workers from Riverside who responded to Joplin. He and another officer were providing security and helping with traffic during a thunderstorm the day after the tornado struck. The other officer suffered only minor injuries from a lightning strike.

Riverside is a community in the Kansas City metro area. Taylor is the first Riverside officer to die in the line of duty. He was 31.

MU Football team responds to Joplin, MONET Sports Director Bill Pollock on scene (AUDIO)

MU Tigers football team responds to recovery effort in Joplin

A tractor-trailer truck that normally carries gear for the Missouri Tigers football team has carried supplies to tornado-ravaged Joplin.

Missourinet Sports Director Bill Pollock has traveled to Joplin to cover the Tigers’ response to the disaster in southwest Missouri. Pollock says the reality of the destruction stands in stark contrast with what he expected to view.

“It wasn’t even close,” Pollock tells us in an interview. “I pulled in and what’s really odd about it is, the tornado cuts a very distinct path and you could look in one direction and see restaurants, buildings; you wouldn’t think that anything was wrong. You can turn around 180 degrees and it’s like a bomb went off.” [Read more...]

Sen. Blunt requests full disaster reimbursement for Joplin (AUDIO)

Senator Blunt says the federal government needs to step up and help Joplin recover.

Blunt has written President Obama [Sen. Blunt letter to President Obama], asking that the federal government provide complete reimbursement of costs associated with recovery from the federally declared natural disaster.

“I am asking for 100% federal reimbursement to local governments,” Blunt tells reporters in a telephone news conference. “They’ve agreed to 75. I think they have to come to a better number than that and the right number, I think, would be 100%.”

Requiring a 25% local match for federal disaster assistance is traditional. Blunt argues the damage to Joplin from an EF-5 tornado was so extensive and so deadly it deserves non-traditional financial help.

Blunt’s optimistic based on how the federal government responded to recent tornado damage in other states.

“I think they’re going to get beyond their normal starting point, which is 75-25,” Blunt says. “In Alabama, they got to 90-10 at Tuscaloosa and I would expect at least that to happen in Joplin.”

About a month ago, more than 200 tornadoes ripped through the South, causing an estimated $3.5 to $5 billion in damage. More than 300 died. Two EF-5 tornadoes died sparsely populated areas. One EF-4 hit Tuscaloosa, Alabama. Damage to Tuscaloosa has been estimated to exceed $2 billion.

The mounting cost of recovery from natural disasters has sparked controversy in Washington. The second-ranking Republican in the United States House suggested that relief for Joplin would be available only if lawmakers found cuts in other parts of the federal budget to offset the cost. Senator McCaskill, a Democrat, criticized House Majority Leader Eric Cantor of Virginia during remarks delivered on the Senate floor, suggesting that Cantor wouldn’t have made such a suggestion had tornadoes ripped through this Congressional district.

Blunt, a Republican, says he understands the anger over the comments, but also understands Cantor’s point. Blunt says he favors fiscal discipline.

“Certainly, we have to prioritize spending at the federal level these days,” Blunt says. “This is clearly a priority.”

Blunt says that if the federal government is going to have FEMA, Congress has to fund it adequately. Blunt adds he was sure after he heard Cantor’s remarks that Cantor would find the savings elsewhere in the budget to free money for recovery in Joplin. Shortly after Cantor’s remarks, a House budget subcommittee cut $1.5 billion from a loan program to provide additional funding for FEMA.

AUDIO: Brent Martin reports [:60 MP3]