Missouri safety officials take charge of locating unaccounted-for individuals
At the direction of Gov. Jay Nixon, the Missouri Department of Public Safety has assumed control of the process of locating unaccounted-for individuals as a result of Sunday’s deadly tornado in Joplin, Mo.
At a morning news conference, the department released a list of 232 individuals for whom an official missing persons report had been filed.
More than 60 law-enforcement and emergency-management personnel, including Missouri State Highway Patrol troopers, State Emergency Management Agency staff, federal partners and local detectives, are working under the department’s direction on this top priority.
“Under Gov. Nixon’s direction, the Department of Public Safety has immediately taken charge of the process of locating individuals who are unaccounted for following Sunday’s devastating tornado,” said DPS Deputy Director Andrea Spillars. “Following the governor’s orders, we have assigned additional investigators to take and investigate official reports, to field calls and to help locate each and every one of these individuals.
“Just as all necessary resources were devoted to search-and-rescue efforts in the tornado’s immediate aftermath, this critical mission will have all the personnel necessary to get information to anxious families, friends and loved ones,” said Spillars. “Locating these unaccounted-for individuals is a critical priority for our department.”
Under the department’s direction, the team of more than 60 participants is working 24 hours a day on accounting for these individuals. Joplin Police Department investigators and federal employees are also part of the effort.
The names of these unaccounted-for individuals are being cross-referenced with all hospitals that admitted or treated patients injured during the tornado, shelters housing tornado survivors, applicants for disaster assistance and the Red Cross Safe and Well program. Additionally, the Department of Public Safety is working with cellphone-service providers to check whether individuals who have been unaccounted-for have used their cellphones since their names were added to the list.
Spillars also urged members of the public to help reduce the list and speed the process of reuniting tornado survivors with loved ones by calling the Missouri State Highway Patrol Found-Persons Hotline (417-895-6868).
The unaccounted-for list will be made available and kept updated on the Missouri Department of Public Safety’s website, www.dps.mo.gov.