Joseph Leahy/St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri Lieutenant Governor Peter Kinder is asking the State Emergency Management Agency to explain why the St. Louis suburb of Bridgeton has not received $500,000 in FEMA funds to help it recover from the 2011 Good Friday tornado.

Kinder chairs an interim legislative committee on disaster preparedness, response and recovery, which agreed today to give SEMA 48 hours to respond.  

(via Flickr/IndofunkSatish)

Washington University officials on the lookout for bacterial meningitis 

Officials at Washington University are on the lookout for possible cases of bacterial meningitis after a female undergraduate student was diagnosed with the bacteria that can cause the illness.

UPI/Paul Newton/The Southern

Illinois will get the chance to convince the federal government to reverse denial of aid to southern Illinois homeowners socked by last month's deadly tornados.

(UPI/Rick Meyer)

Missouri has received another $47 million in federal grants to help cover the costs of natural disasters that pounded the state over the summer.

The grants, announced today by Republican senator Roy Blunt, include:

(UPI/Bill Greenblatt)

Missouri is getting more than $5 million from the federal government to help in the long-term recovery for people hit by tornadoes and flooding.

The grant announced Wednesday from the Federal Emergency Management Agency will be available to help people hit by tornadoes in the Joplin and St. Louis areas, as well as flooding along the Mississippi River and in southern Missouri.

(via Flickr/Filipão 28)

Federal officials will conduct the first nationwide test of the Emergency Alert System (EAS) next week.

It’s scheduled for 1:00 p.m. Central Standard Time on Wednesday, November 9th, and will be broadcast over every radio station, TV station and cable network across the country.  Mike O’Connell with the Missouri Department of Public Safety says state officials are helping spread the word, so that residents don’t mistake the test for a real emergency.

(UPI/Bill Greenblatt)

As the six-month anniversary of the presidential disaster declaration for Missouri approaches, federal disaster grants and loans have reached over $3.5 million in St. Louis County.

Grants and loans have been distributed by FEMA’s Individuals and Household Programs, their Public Assistance Program and the Small Business Administration disaster loan program.

The money has been providing for those affected by disasters in St. Louis County.

(via Flickr/Meagan)

Updated at 3:47 p.m. following a press conference with McCaskill

Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill says federal funding for Joplin is not in jeopardy.

Federal Emergency Management Agency officials said last week that funding for some long-term projects in the tornado-ravaged town would be put on hold because of Hurricane Irene.

McCaskill said she was worried initially (see earlier story below) but says she got a better explanation over the weekend.

(via Flickr/USACEpublicaffairs)

The federal government has approved the disaster declaration for six counties in northwest Missouri that were pounded by flooding along the Missouri River.

Gov. Jay Nixon announced Friday that eligible residents of Andrew, Atchison, Buchanan, Holt, Lafayette and Platte counties can seek federal assistance uninsured property that was lost to the flood. Eligible expenses include temporary housing, home repair, and the replacement of household items.  

(St. Louis Public Radio)

A federal judge has thrown out a lawsuit three southwestern Illinois counties filed to block the U.S. government from declaring the region's levees functionally useless.

U.S. District Judge J. Phil Gilbert called the lawsuit moot Monday, after the Federal Emergency Management Agency said in court it had no plans to pull the accreditation of the region's levees as part of a levee-mapping effort.

(via Flickr/jetsandzeppelins)

Sixth heat-related death reported in St. Louis City this year

Earline Walker is the sixth person in St. Louis to die of heat-related causes this year.

90-year-old Walker was found last week by her family at her residence in the 3000 block of Semple. She had window air conditioner units, but they were blowing hot air.

(UPI/Tom Uhlenbrock)

The city of Joplin is off the hook for paying for the first couple of months of debris removal following a devastating tornado in May.

The federal government is paying 90 percent of the cost in the hard-hit area designated for the Federal Emergency Management Agency's enhanced cleanup payments, instead of the usual 75 percent. The state will be picking up the 10 percent not covered by FEMA under the expedited debris removal program that runs through next Sunday. Mo. Gov. Jay Nixon said two-thirds of the properties have been cleared so far.

Adam Allington, SLPR news

St. Louis county homeowners or renters who were impacted by the April 22nd tornado or storms must register with the Federal Emergency Management Agency this week to learn if they qualify for grant assistance.

 The deadline to register with FEMA is Friday, July 29th.

 Andrea Jackson-Jennings is the Director of Human Services for St. Louis County. She says, so far, FEMA has taken nearly 1500 registrations in St. Louis County and provided more than $971,000 in grants to individuals and families.

(St. Louis Public Radio)

The people who oversee 64 miles of aging Mississippi River levees in southwestern Illinois have signed off on a $151 million plan to upgrade the barriers perhaps by 2014.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports the Southwestern Illinois Flood Prevention District Council adopted the proposal Wednesday involving levees in Madison, St. Clair and Monroe counties.

Officials expect the upgrades to be funded largely by a quarter-cent sales tax.

Updated 5:07 p.m. to reflect that the cleanup work begins Wednesday.

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon says the federal government has agreed to pay a greater-than-usual share of the cleanup costs from a deadly tornado that struck Joplin.

He says the federal government will cover 90 percent of the expedited debris removal from areas that received extensive damage.

(UPI/Tom Uhlenbrock)

Updated at 5:16 p.m. with gallery of aerial photographs from msnbc.com.

Updated at 4:29 p.m. with information on multi-vortex designation from the National Weather Service.

The New York Times brings us this update this afternoon on the continuing situation in Joplin:

About 1,500 people are unaccounted for in this battered city, a Fire Department official said Tuesday, as rescue workers took advantage of a few hours of sunny weather to continue searching for survivors in buildings leveled by the country’s deadliest tornado in more than 60 years.

As of 1 p.m. today, The Missouri State Emergency Management Association, or SEMA, lists the death toll at 117 people, and that number could climb.

(U.S. Geological Survey)

The Federal Emergency Management Agency is holding drills across six states this week to see how prepared they are for a major earthquake along the New Madrid fault.

FEMA is teaming up with the military, as well as local hospitals, shelters and morgues for the simulation.

Beth Freeman is the FEMA regional administrator for Missouri and several neighboring states.

UPI/Bill Greenblatt

Army Corps of Engineers to Decide on Levee Breach this Weekend

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will wait until this weekend to decide whether to punch a massive hole in a Mississippi County, Missouri levee to protect Cairo, Ill.

The mayor of the small city isn't waiting that long to take action.

(UPI/Bill Greenblatt)

Representatives from the Federal Emergency Management Agency are on the ground in St. Louis to assess the damage from last week's tornadoes. Their findings will be part of Missouri's request for Federal assistance.

FEMA investigators are gathering data on a variety of factors-including the number of displaced people, effects on the local economy, and how much property was uninsured.

Josh DeBerg is a spokesperson for FEMA. He says the main criteria for federal aid boils down to a question of resources.

(St. Louis Public Radio)

The Federal Emergency Management Agency is giving a reprieve to southwestern Illinois and other U.S. areas guarded by levees it was to have deemed functionally useless.

FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate told federal lawmakers Thursday that the agency would hold off on decertifying 64 miles of earthen levees protecting St. Louis' Illinois suburbs.

Fugate says the agency would stop using a questioned assessment technique and turn to a more nuanced measure of the actual protection the levees provide.