Blunt, Obama issue statements lamenting loss of life in Joplin
This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, May 23, 2011 - President Barack Obama and U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., quickly issued statements of condolences and concern, in the wake of Sunday night's tornado in Joplin that is believed to have killed at least 24 people.
Blunt previously had been the congressman for southwest Missouri, including Joplin. "Our thoughts and prayers go out to the families impacted by this devastating tornado in Joplin," he said. "While local officials are still assessing the full extent of the damages, I am deeply saddened by the tragic reports of loss of life and extensive destruction resulting from this storm. My staff and I will continue to monitor this situation closely, and I urge everyone to proceed safely and use extra precautions in the region."
Said Obama: "Michelle and I send our deepest condolences to the families of all those who lost their lives in the tornadoes and severe weather that struck Joplin, Missouri as well as communities across the Midwest today. We commend the heroic efforts by those who have responded and who are working to help their friends and neighbors at this very difficult time. At my direction, FEMA is working with the affected areas' state and local officials to support response and recovery efforts, and the federal government stands ready to help our fellow Americans as needed."
Gov. Jay Nixon already has dispatched the Missouri National Guard to Joplin.
According to his staff:
"The governor has declared a state of emergency in Missouri and activated the state Emergency Operations Center. State and local law enforcement agencies, including fire mutual aid, are coordinating search and rescue and recovery operations. The Missouri State Highway Patrol also is deploying troopers from other regions to support local officers in southern Missouri. Specialized emergency response teams, including Missouri's Disaster Medical Assistance Team 1 (MO-1 DMAT) are deploying to the area to provide aid and assistance.
"These storms have caused extensive damage across Missouri, and they continue to pose significant risk to lives and property," Nixon said. "As a state, we are deploying every agency and resource available to keep Missouri families safe, search for the missing, provide emergency medical care, and begin to recover. I have ordered the Missouri National Guard to deploy Citizen-Soldiers and assets to support local law enforcement agencies with emergency coordination and recovery, and other state assets have been mobilized to provide emergency support as well. I urge Missourians to keep a close eye on the latest weather information and to follow the instructions and warnings of emergency personnel as these deadly storms continue to move through our state."
This morning, U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., and U.S. Rep. Todd Akin, R-Town and Country, also issued statements of sorrow.
"My heart goes out to the families, friends, and neighbors who lost loved ones in this horrific tornado. Everyone affected will be kept close to our hearts and in our prayers. This catastrophe has destroyed homes, schools, and even a hospital that we will work together to rebuild. We are already working to make sure that Joplin will have every resource of the federal government available to those impacted by this storm."
Akin's statement said, "The devastation brought by Sunday's tornado to Joplin is hard to comprehend. The courage of first responders and the compassion of neighbors assisting neighbors in the face of this historic storm damage is humbling. My thoughts and prayers are with the families affected by this horrible tragedy."