A Missouri congressman who serves as the House GOP Conference Secretary traveled to Jefferson City on Thursday to file for re-election.
U.S. Rep. Jason Smith, R-Salem, is the House GOP Conference Secretary, and a vocal supporter of President Donald Trump.
“This is my great opportunity to have the privilege to serve the folks that represents where I was born and raised and where my family has been seven generations,” Smith says.
Smith’s sprawling district includes 30 southern Missouri counties and 20-thousand square miles, and stretches from just south of St. Louis to ten miles east of Branson.
His district includes Cape Girardeau, Farmington, Sikeston and West Plains.
Festus Democrat Kathy Ellis has filed to challenge Smith, along with Fredericktown Libertarian Jonathan Shell. Filing ends March 27.
Smith was first elected to Congress in 2013, in a special election. He was re-elected in 2014 and 2016, and is seeking his third full term in November.
Meantime, Congressman Smith says Walmart, Home Depot and Lowe’s have donated supplies to help residents in Malden and Matthews clean up from Saturday’s EF2 tornado, which had wind speeds of about 115 miles per hour.
Smith began Thursday morning by traveling to both towns to inspect the damage. He says Malden was hit hard.
“22 homes completely destroyed, so a lot of families that are displaced,” says Smith. “76 homes is what they said this (Thursday) morning that are pretty significantly damaged, one business.”
Smith also toured the nearby Matthews nursing home in New Madrid County. It was struck by Saturday’s tornado, and Smith says 58 nursing home residents had to be evacuated.
Smith met with Malden Mayor Denton Kooyman and first responders, in addition to the tour.
KFVS reports the tornado injured four Malden residents, and that damage is estimated at $2 million.
Congressman Smith tells Missourinet he’s frustrated with current rules regarding federal disaster assistance, saying aid requires 300 damaged homes and at least $8 million in damage.
“But that to me is unacceptable and I said that today. It shouldn’t matter if you live in a zip code where the population is 500 or 500,000,” Smith says.
Smith praises the volunteers who’ve arrived in the Bootheel, describing it as the “American spirit at its best.”
He says the Salvation Army is also assisting residents.
The Missouri Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and the State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA) will be available at the Malden Community Center on Friday (March 2) from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m. providing information and assistance to those impacted by the tornado.
The Malden Community Center is located at 607 North Douglass Street.
DNR has been dealing with numerous downed trees.
Click here to listen to Missourinet news director Brian Hauswirth’s full interview with U.S. Rep. Jason Smith, R-Salem, which was recorded on March 1, 2018 outside the Kirkpatrick Building in Jefferson City: