Joplin tornado

(UPI/Rick Meyer)

The nearly 600 federal trailers that housed Joplin residents since the May 2011 tornado are slowly emptying, with only about 80 of the trailers still occupied.

Those who remain in the trailers will soon have to start paying rent in January.

The Joplin Globe reports many of those still in the trailers provided by the Federal Emergency Management Agency have disabilities and are unable to work.

(UPI/Rick Meyer)

The EF-5 tornado in Joplin, Missouri in May 2011 killed 161 people and a left city and its residents devastated.

Two filmmakers - Beth Pike and Erica Tremblay - have created films documenting the disaster, the fallout, and what they call a “remarkable recovery.”

(UPI/Tom Uhlenbrock)

The Missouri National Guard reports four of its soldiers stole electronics from a Wal-Mart store while helping recovery efforts after last year's tornado in Joplin.

The Guard released records on the incident to the Joplin Globe on Tuesday after refusing to release them last week, claiming it was exempt from the state's open records law.

The Globe reports that the Guard said three specialists and a sergeant admitted taking electronics such as video games and a camera. The Guard did not release the soldiers' names.

(UPI/Rick Meyer)

Missouri National Guard members have been disciplined for looting in Joplin after the massive tornado.

But the guard has refused to release information about the incidents, saying it's not subject to Missouri's open records law.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports the guard didn't respond to requests for details about the looting by citing an exemption to the Missouri Sunshine Law.

(UPI/Tom Uhlenbrock)

Will be updated.

Missouri Governor Jay Nixon has opened a day of remembrance in Joplin by honoring tornado survivors, medical workers and volunteers who've aided the city's recovery.

Nixon told the crowd during a sunrise service at Freeman Hospital that it was fitting to reflect on faith as dawn broke over a city where a twister killed 161 people and destroyed thousands of buildings one year ago.

(Screen capture of YouTube Video/WhiteHouse)

KSMU's Missy Shelton contributed reporting for this story.

A commencement address from President Barack Obama capped a difficult year for the Joplin High School class of 2012.

An EF-5 tornado struck the southwestern Missouri town a year ago today, killing 161 people and injuring hundreds more. The storm destroyed five school buildings, including the high school. Students attended their senior year classes in a converted big box store.

After devastating tornado, Joplin High bounces back

May 18, 2012

Nearly one year ago, a devastating tornado ripped through the city of Joplin, Mo. The tornado was the deadliest in the U.S in almost 60 years, killing 161 people and injuring more than 900. But life for Joplin's residents is finally starting to return to normal.

That includes life for students at Joplin High School. The school was destroyed by the tornado just hours after last year's commencement ceremony. Although the school's old location is still in ruins, the city has found a temporary solution to keep classes going.

(via Flickr/IndofunkSatish)

Federal court sides with Quinn in pay dispute

A federal appeals court has sided with Illinois governor Pat Quinn over canceled pay raises due to thousands of union workers.

(UPI/Rick Meyer)

Seven Joplin residents and a Laclede County man are facing federal fraud charges over requests for FEMA aid after the deadly May 2011 tornado.

The U.S. Attorney's Office in Springfield announced the separate grand jury indictments on Wednesday. Each of the defendants is accused of falsely claiming damage to their homes or property in Federal Emergency Management Agency applications for disaster benefits.

Those charged are:

Graduation is supposed to in part be about celebrating the future, but last year in Joplin, Mo., shortly after the high school graduation ceremony, an EF-5 tornado — the highest-strength rating — destroyed one-third of the city and killed 161 people, including one teen who had received his diploma that day.

(UPI/Bill Greenblatt)

The Joplin School District will get almost $50,000 from the U.S. Department of Education to provide its students and staff recover from the EF-5 tornado that struck the city on May 22, 2011 destroying three schools.

The Project SERV grant will help the district provide academic and mental health services to 7,700 students and 500 educators.

(UPI/Rick Meyer)

Missouri will receive a $16.5 million federal grant to fund temporary jobs aimed at helping with large-scale recovery efforts from the 2011 Joplin tornado and from flooding around the state last year.

The U.S. Department of Labor said in a release Tuesday that the $16.5 million grant is from the National Emergency Grant program.

(via Flickr/Adam Procter)

University of Missouri Curators to consider raising tuition today

The special meeting comes after the governing board postponed consideration of a tuition increase three weeks ago at its regular meeting in Kansas City. This time, the curators will meet by video teleconference along with new university president Tim Wolfe.  

(UPI/Tom Uhlenbrock)

Eight months after a tornado laid waste to much of the city, Joplin is wrestling with an emotional question: Should the community market its devastated neighborhoods to tourists?

The convention and visitors bureau recently discussed offering guided bus tours and even a smartphone app. But storm victims bristled, imagining that their shattered homes could be put on display for legions of curious sightseers.

The bureau director says he wants to promote Joplin's recovery. He insists the effort is "not about busted-up homes or destroyed cars or body parts."

Flickr/Fried Dough

Mo. Senator wants to increase cigarette tax and eliminate state income tax for low income people

Republican state Sen. John Lamping, of Ladue, has filed legislation that would exempt anyone earning less than $2,000 from having to pay state income tax and slightly lower the taxes for people earning more than that. His legislation would offset the projected $128 million reduction in state income tax revenues by increasing the cigarette tax to 43 cents per pack.

Missouri's current cigarette tax of 17 cents per pack is the lowest in the nation.

(UPI/Tom Uhlenbrock)

The federal Environmental Protection Agency will provide the city of Joplin, Mo. with $500,000 to help test and clean up lead-contaminated soils that were exposed by the May 22 tornado that devastated the city.

The money from the Superfund program will allow the city to hire one full-time and one part-time person to coordinate a soil testing and remediation plan. The funds will also pay for a vehicle, equipment, supplies and travel expenses.

(UPI/Rick Meyer)

Missouri's housing agency has rejected a proposal to bypass new federal wage standards for tornado recovery projects.

A Missouri Housing Development Commission recovery plan requires workers on state-subsidized projects to be paid the prevailing federal wage used on federally funded public works projects. Those wages rose substantially in September.

(UPI/Rick Meyer)

A southwestern Missouri man has admitted writing more than $160,000 in bad checks by claiming he and his family were victims of the Joplin tornado.

The U. S. Attorney's office says 31-year-old Justin R. Compton, of Springfield, pleaded guilty Tuesday to bank fraud.

Compton admitted opening an account at Regions Bank two days before the May 22 tornado. He deposited no money, however, instead telling the bank he would set up direct deposit of his paychecks.

UPI/Tom Uhlenbro

Insurers have spent more than $1 billion in Joplin tornado claims

After spending about $1.13 billion in claims tied to the Joplin tornado, insurers expect payouts to continue to grow. 

The head of the Missouri Department of Insurance, Financial Institutions and Professional Registration says total insured losses could be $1.8 billion to $1.9 billion. John Huff called the tornado the "largest insurance event in Missouri history."

UPI/Rick Meyer

Joplin to mark 6 month anniversary of devastating tornado

The city of Joplin is marking the six-month anniversary of the May 22 tornado with a community memorial service Tuesday. The service begins at 4:30 p.m. at Cunningham Park. The park is located next to St. John's Regional Medical Center, the damaged hospital that for many became a physical symbol of the tornado that killed 161 people.

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon is scheduled to attend.

(via St. Louis County website)

Committee to meet today to review St. Louis County's controversial proposed budget

County Executive Charlie Dooley wants to cut $10 million in spending in part by closing 23 parks and laying off 175 employees. During a public hearing last week on the budget the council chambers was filled with residents, mostly opposed to closing parks. Several of the council members, including Mike O'Mara, the chairman of the special budget committee, suggested the cuts can be avoided.

SIUC tenure and tenure-track faculty go on strike

Three of the four Southern Illinois University Carbondale (SIUC) unions in a contract dispute with the administration have reached a tentative agreement, avoiding a strike among non-tenure track faculty, civil service staff and graduate assistants. But one group walked off the job this morning.

Talks toward a new contract broke down last night.

(UPI/Tom Uhlenbrock)

The May tornado that hit Joplin, wiping out a big portion of the southwest Missouri city and killing 162 people, also left lead contamination that could cost up to $7.5 million to clean up.

Updated 2:03 p.m. with link to full report

Updated 12:46 p.m. with information from report

Originally published 10:46 a.m.

The federal agency that oversees the National Weather Service says warning sirens and notifications went out well ahead of the devastating Joplin tornado. But it says residents didn't respond quickly enough to the sirens warning of the impending twister.

For Joplin's children, tornado's effects persist

Sep 15, 2011

The tornado that hit Joplin, Mo., in May destroyed a third of the town and killed 162 people. While the storm lasted just minutes, the psychological damage continues, and the community is mobilizing to cope with continuing trauma. The city's children are dealing with both the unsettling effects of the tornado and what the loss, disruption and heartache is doing to their parents.

(UPI/Tom Uhlenbrock)

The death toll from Joplin's tornado is up to 162 after Jasper County's coroner added two more people to the list.

The Joplin Globe reports coroner Rob Chappel added 91-year-old Dorothy Johnston and 68-year-old Ronnie Holloway, both of Joplin, to the list on Wednesday.

Johnston died Sunday at a Carthage nursing home where she was suffering from a brain injury sustained in the storm.

(UPI/Tom Uhlenbrock)

Updated 5:32 p.m. with reaction from the Mo. House Speaker

A measure that sharply reduces the amount of tax credits available to support the creation of an international cargo hub at Lambert-St. Louis International Airport is in the hands of the Missouri House.

The State Senate approved the measure this morning.

(via Flickr/Galileo55)

Tornado survivors finish National 9/11 flag

(UPI/Tom Uhlenbrock)

Two bills have been filed in the Missouri House regarding the use of the state’s so-called Rainy Day fund.

The first would authorize $150 million to be used to match FEMA expenditures on tornado and flood damage across the state.  The second bill would set up a joint House-Senate committee to oversee the use of Rainy Day funds for natural disasters.

They’re sponsored by House Budget Chairman Ryan Silvey (R, Kansas City).  He wants Governor Jay Nixon (D) to expand the call of the special session to include both bills.

(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.

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