A congressman who represents southwest Missouri on Capitol Hill describes the devastation in tornado-damaged Carl Junction as “mind-boggling.” U.S. Rep. Billy Long, R-Springfield, traveled to Carl Junction on Friday to view tornado damage.

Missouri Congressman Billy Long tours tornado-damaged Carl Junction on May 24, 2019 (photo courtesy of Congressman Long’s office)

He traveled by golf cart, to get further inside the battered subdivision.

“There were 19 homes that were totally destroyed, there’s a lot of them that suffered significant damage but they can probably be saved,” Long says.

Congressman Long says two-story homes were cut in half by the EF-3 tornado, which the National Weather Service (NWS) in Springfield says had estimated peak winds of 140 miles per hour.

The NWS says the tornado was on the ground for 14 minutes.

Long praises volunteers who turned out to assist, saying there is a lot of community spirit in the town of about 8,000 residents.

Long tells Missourinet one homeowner approached him during Friday’s tour, with tears in his eyes.

“(He) shook hands and hugged me and he said ‘thank you, thank you.’ He said, we saw you go by on the golf cart awhile ago and we were just so appreciative of you taking the time to come down here,” says Long.

He says residents are appreciative knowing that someone cares. Governor Mike Parson and U.S. Sen. Josh Hawley also visited Carl Junction, after the tornado.

Long is encouraging Carl Junction residents who need assistance in the tornado’s aftermath to call his office. Congressman Long’s Springfield office number is (417) 889-1800 and his Joplin office number is (417) 781-1041.

Congressman Long also says he wishes he could propose legislation to eliminate May 22 on the calendar and go from May 21 to 23. While he’s being facetious, he says he’d like to never hear about May 22 again, except to celebrate his daughter’s birthday.

When Long’s oldest daughter was born on May 22, 1986, his wife’s hospital bed was moved into the hallway at Mercy Hospital in Springfield because of a tornado. The deadly 2011 Joplin and Wednesday’s Carl Junction tornadoes also happened on that date.

“May 22nd of 2011, May 22nd of 2019, just that day for some reason seems to really bring out the tornadoes here in tornado alley,” Long says.

Long describes the scene in Carl Junction as “total devastation.” He says he’s been in contact with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) in order to help in any way possible.

While there was no deaths nor injuries reported in Carl Junction, the state Department of Public Safety (DPS) says a tornado killed three people that evening in nearby Golden City.

Click here to listen to Brian Hauswirth’s full interview with Missouri Congressman Billy Long, which was recorded on May 24, 2019:

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