As the state’s senior advocate by statute, the Lieutenant Governor has delivered a report to the Senate Interim Committee on Natural Disaster Recovery on how Joplin’s seniors were impacted by the May 22 tornado. 

Peter Kinder says more than a third of the 160 killed by the Joplin tornado were 65 or older.  Other seniors were effected in various ways, such as those who lost vital items in the storm like medications, dentures and eyeglasses.  He says Medicaid will pay for one set of dentures and one pair of eyeglasses. 

Others had a difficult time with Medicaid transfers when they moved from damaged nursing homes to other living arrangements.

Kinder adds some seniors lost key support people in the tornado such as caregivers, spouses or children.  Doctors’ offices, pharmacies, grocery stores and other businesses that were formerly relied on had been destroyed or closed.

Lieutenant Governor Peter Kinder testifies before the Senate Interim Committee on Natural Disaster Recovery

Kinder notes that about three months after the tornado the Joplin Senior Center has reopened.  This gives those residents a place to go for a nutritious meal five days a week, social interaction and professional observation that might catch signs of physical, emotional or financial needs.

The Committee was told that when home-delivered meals resumed in Joplin recently, 110 were served on the first day.  He wants Governor Jay Nixon to release more of the money for those meals that has been withheld.  Kinder says about half of it was released early this month, but the program is still short about 475 thousand dollars.

Kinder called on the Committee to keep in mind the needs of seniors when assessing the state’s response to disasters.

Listen to Lieutenant Governor Peter Kinder’s Testimony before the Senate Interim Committee on Natural Disaster Recovery mp3 11:31