Storm causes little damage in Southwest Missouri
Newton County seemingly dodged a bullet Sunday night, as a severe thunderstorm caused little, if any, damage.
Gary Roark, the county’s emergency management director, said there was little damage in Newton County, although he did see small, dime-sized hail in the vicinity of Missouri Highway 43 and Iris Road.
“To my knowledge, there was nothing at all in Newton County, damage-wise,” Roark said. “There was nothing at all by Seneca. I drove all the way down to almost Tiff City right after the thunderstorm hit and didn’t see anything.”
Roark said he drove into Wyandotte, Okla., about seven miles west of Seneca, and saw heavy, large hail and trees downed by straight-line winds.
“I heard reports, while I was in Wyandotte at about 8:30, that there was wind damage in Grove, and also in Tiff City,” Roark said.
The National Weather Service reported there were trees down at the intersection of Route B and Missouri Highway 43 in extreme northwest McDonald County.
“We had lots of fireworks tents down, and we had a tree go into one of the trailers at Pineville School and do some roof damage on it,” said Gregg Sweeten, McDonald County undersheriff and the county’s director of emergency management. “It probably peeled the shingles off for six or eight inches on it. The tree was pretty well rotten anyway. We didn’t have a whole lot of wind in town, but enough to take it down.”
Sweeten also reported half-dollar-sized hail in southeast City. Golf ball sized hail and damaging wind gusts were reported in various portions of the Ozarks, including Springfield.
Meanwhile, Newton County continues to seek a federal public sector disaster declaration, Roark said.
The county is about $500,000 shy of a $7 million total officials with the Federal Emergency Management Agency said was necessary to qualify for the assistance. The $7 million figure is based on Missouri’s population. Funds will be used to reimburse emergency entities that provided mutual aid during the May 10 tornado, as well as for hauling away debris and covering costs incurred by New-Mac Electric Cooperative while restoring power to rural county residents.
“I’m still relatively sure we’re going to get it,” said Roark. “But there’s a lot going on around the country.”
FEMA officials are currently contending with flooding in Iowa, Illinois and northern Missouri. More than 36,000 people have been evacuated from 26 communities in Iowa alone. President Bush is expected to tour flood damage in the Midwest on Thursday, the White House said, but the places the president will visit have not been chosen.
“Several of our AmeriCorps volunteers have been sent to Hannibal,” Roark said. “Our numbers are down. We have six AmeriCorps volunteers left, many of those from Hands-On, which is still helping people, helping remove debris from pastures, putting tarps on roofs, that type of assistance. I’ll lose more AmeriCorps volunteers this week, and I’ll have three through the 27th.
“They have been a tremendous help. Hands-On has been working out in the field with debris cleanup, AmeriCorps has done that work, has worked in the emergency management office here coordinating volunteers, and have even answered the phones here, helping people with different questions.”
Recovery efforts continue to wind down. Late last week, the county’s Community Organizations Active in Disaster (COAD) group announced it and AmeriCorps was closing a warehouse distribution center located near the Hugh Robinson Airport on Howard Bush Drive. Roark said foodstuffs were being moved to the Help Center, located at 214 E. Main, and Crosslines, 308 W. Spring St. COAD officials said victims still in need of assistance should call the Help Center at 451-0884 or Crosslines at 451-0157.
Roark said a large amount of clothing remained in the warehouse. He said COAD was selling this clothing by the pound to a Texas company, who will then distribute it to third world countries. Funds from the sale will go back to COAD to be used to help disaster victims, Roark said.
Currently, Roark said, emergency management is looking for volunteers to serve as caseworkers for the recovery effort.
“We have a certain number of people who have, for one reason or another, fallen through the cracks and may not qualify for aid from the federal government,” he said.
“We need volunteers willing to spend time working with people on a one-on-one basis to see what aid we can provide.”
Roark said COAD could not provide financial assistance, but would be able to provide building materials to repair homes and roofs damaged by the storm for those who did not have insurance and cannot qualify for federal assistance.
He added some people might be hesitant to seek federal assistance, as they may believe their neighbor needs help more. Roark said there was enough private sector FEMA assistance out there for all who qualify.
Those who sought federal assistance should have paperwork packets arriving in the mail. This, Roark said, brings up another issue.
“A lot of times, the paperwork is overwhelming,” he said. “We encourage them to go to the recovery center at Calvary of Neosho. There, they’ll find officials from FEMA, the Small Business Administration and the IRS who will walk them through the paperwork.
They do a good job of helping people get it done.”
Roark said many people might not realize the Small Business Administration has low-interest loans available to qualifying homeowners with storm damage.
“If they do qualify, they have under 3 percent interest loans for rebuilding homes,” he said. “You just can’t get that anywhere. The Small Business Administration is for both businesses and homeowners. It’s just another way the federal government is helping in the recovery effort.”
Neosho Daily News