Joplin tornado

(via Flickr/KellyB.)

The unemployment rate in Missouri ticked down slightly last month, according to new data from the Missouri Department of Economic Development.

Missouri's rate last month was 8.8 percent, down from 8.9 percent in May 2011, and a sharp decrease from June 2010, when 9.2 percent of the state's citizen's were out of work.

The national rate for June stood at 9.2 percent.

(UPI/Bill Greenblatt)

Updated 3:42 p.m.

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon has pledged an additional $100 million in state disaster aid following the deadly tornado in Joplin and continued flooding across the state.

Nixon's announcement Friday raises Missouri's total financial commitment to $150 million for a particularly devastating few months of natural disasters.

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers photo by Carlos J. Lazo

Obama issues federal emergency declaration

President Barack Obama has issued a federal emergency declaration for Missouri because of flooding along the Missouri River system and flash floods in the northeast. Gov. Jay Nixon says his request for the declaration was granted Thursday.

(UPI/Tom Uhlenbrock)

Engineers who studied the Joplin Home Depot where at least seven people died say the store's construction method might have led to some of the deaths.

The Kansas City Star reports that the "tilt-up wall" method used at the Joplin store met city codes, but didn't offer much protection when an EF-5 tornado roared through the community.

(UPI/Tom Uhlenbrock)

The Missouri Department of Economic Development will use $50 million in bond money to help Joplin-area manufacturers recover from the May 22 tornado.

Gov. Jay Nixon was in Joplin Friday to announce $75 million in awards and modifications of existing programs aimed at helping business and industry in the Joplin area. Two-thirds of that funding comes from Private Activity Tax Exempt Bond capacity that has been set aside to aid the region.

(via Flickr/U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service - Midwest Region)

As Joplin, Mo. continues to recover from the tornado that devastated the area just over a month ago, there is an unfortunate report of another death related to the disaster, along with an effort to make something useful out of the wreckage.

Joplin's public information office says it was notified Wednesday of the death of Grace M. Sanders, who was injured in the tornado. No other information about the victim or the death was released.  With Sanders' death, the number of deaths from the tornado has now risen to 156.

(Courtesy Atchison County 911/Emergency Management on Facebook)

Levee Break Sends Releases Torrents of Water

Crews are racing to build up a protective wall to keep floodwaters from reaching a small Iowa town after the swollen Missouri River punched a massive hole in the main levee that protects the community.

Two levees in northwest Missouri ruptured yesterday, sending water over rural farmland.

(via Flickr/xpda)

Joplin city officials say two more fatalities have been reported from the tornado that devastated the southwest Missouri city last month.

Lynn Iliff Onstot, public information officer for Joplin, said as of Monday there were 153 fatalities from the tornado. Onstot said the city received the updated list from the Jasper County coroner and the Missouri Department of Public Safety.

(UPI/Tom Uhlenbrock)

The death toll from the tornado that destroyed much of Joplin has risen to 151 in part because of several deaths linked to a rare fungal infection.

Jasper County Coroner Rob Chappel said Friday that his office is still receiving regular reports of people who have died at hospitals after being hurt in the nation's deadliest tornado in more than six decades.

The most recent death was confirmed late Wednesday.

(UPI/Bill Greenblatt)

Nixon to sign budget, Missouri RX bills

Gov. Jay Nixon will sign the 2012 budget for the state of Missouri - and cuts to the $23 billion spending plan are already in the works.

The governor said two weeks ago he would have to cut at least $113 million. Much of that is due to unplanned expenses from the Joplin tornado and flooding in southeast Missouri. More cuts could be necessary as the state is now also responding to floods along the Missouri River in the northwest corner of the state.

(UPI/Bill Greenblatt)

MoDOT building that will be shuttered in restructuring could get new life

The Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission yesterday approved a five-year reduction plan that will eliminate 1200 jobs and close 131 facilities - including district offices in Macon, Joplin and Willow Springs. But the building in Joplin could get see new life fairly quickly. The AP reports that MoDOT director Kevin Keith has offered the building to the Joplin School District, which saw a half-dozen buildings destroyed or damaged in the May 22 F5 tornado.

Keith says agency employees who would be in the building when school starts would be relocated to temporary quarters.

(UPI/Bill Greenblatt)

Good morning! Here are some of today's starting headlines:

Cardinals, Royals to team up for series to benefit Joplin recovery

The St. Louis Cardinals and Kansas City Royals will be teaming up to help raise money for tornado recovery efforts in Joplin, Mo. Missouri's two Major League Baseball teams are to meet for an interleague series June 17-19 in St. Louis.

(UPI/Bill Greenblatt)

A newly created House committee will examine whether a special legislative session is needed to assist in the recovery from a deadly tornado in Joplin and flooding in southeastern Missouri.

The House Interim Committee on Disaster Recovery was to make its recommendation by the end of July. The committee also was tasked with examining long-term recovery strategies and ways for Missouri to be better prepared for future natural disasters.

A report with those findings was to be submitted by the end of the year.

(UPI/Rick Meyer)

Gov. Jay Nixon has ordered that the U.S. and Missouri flags be flown at half-staff at all government buildings to honor a Riverside police officer who died after helping Joplin tornado victims.

Flickr/SDNG photo by OC Chad Carlson

Second Breach on Missouri River Reported

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers reported the first breach on the levee near the Missouri-Iowa border yesterday. The second breach, which is about 10 feet wide, was reported this morning.

The corps says the Iowa National Guard has been dropping thousands of pounds of large sandbags to help fill the breaches, but the damaged areas are expected to fully breach as water levels rise.

(UPI/Bill Greenblatt)

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon has asked the federal government to pay the full cost of repairing public buildings and infrastructure damaged by recent floods and tornadoes.

Nixon said Friday that his request is based on the historic devastation caused by a tornado that killed at least 138 people in Joplin and flooding that swamped hundreds of thousands of acres in southeast Missouri.

(UPI/Tom Uhlenbrock)

Missouri officials say the death toll from the massive May 22 Joplin tornado has risen to 138 people.

The state Department of Public Safety announced the increase from 134 to 138 on Thursday after confirming that four more people died in hospitals of injuries suffered in deadliest single U.S. tornado since 1950.

More than 8,000 homes and apartments, and more than 500 commercial properties, were damaged or destroyed when the twister ripped through more than six miles of the southwest Missouri town.

(UPI/Bill Greenblatt)

Mo. Officials Preparing for More Flooding

Mother Nature is challenging Missourians again. With flooding likely along the Missouri River, Gov. Jay Nixon and other officials are heading to St. Joseph today to discuss preparations.

Seasonal flooding along the Missouri is being worsened this year as the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers releases historic amounts of water from upstream dams in the Dakotas. Officials in northwestern Missouri's Atchison and Holt counties have already put residents in flood-prone areas on alert to evacuate as needed.

(UPI/Tom Uhlenbrock)

Missouri officials say everyone who had been reported missing since last week's massive Joplin tornado has been accounted for and at least 134 people have been confirmed killed.

The Wednesday announcement came from the Missouri Department of Public Safety. The agency has led the effort to track down the nearly 270 people listed as unaccounted for after the May 22 tornado.

Maria Altman / St. Louis Public Radio

The St. Louis Police Department is sending 60 police officers down to Joplin to help as the city recovers.

The officers leave Wednesday and will be there for a week.

They’ll be working 12-hour shifts dealing with traffic control, check points, and manning squad patrols through the impacted area.

Police Lieutenant Colonel Tim Reagan says the officers all volunteered for the work.

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