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Response planned to MO twisters

As many as 400 homes destroyed by twisters.

BY NANCY HOGLAND | BALTIMORE | February 1, 2008

Efforts are being made to find ways to help survivors of the January tornadoes are continuing January tornadoes that destroyed hundreds homes in southwest Missouri.

At the same time reponse plans are set up, emergency managers are holding their collective breaths to see if President George W. Bush grants a disaster declaration. Earlier this month, deadly tornadoes killed two and injured 30 and destroyed several businesses and more than 400 homes in that mainly rural area.

Officials report some 31 percent of those homeowners were uninsured, a number that Dante Gliniecki, the statewide volunteer coordinator for Missouri's Emergency Management Agency, called "significant.”

"If we don't get that declaration, we're going to have to rely totally on our volunteer and faith-based groups to help these people rebuild and that's a lot of rebuilding," he said. "We've always had an excellent response to calls for help most people just don't realize that the faith-based groups are the lynch pin of our relief efforts but with all the hurricanes, fires, floods and tornadoes that we've been experiencing around the country, our volunteer and faith-based groups are getting spread thinner and thinner. If things keep going the way they have, they could soon be tapped out. We really need to get this declaration."

Chuck Nay, Planning and Disaster Recovery branch manager of Missouri's State Emergency Management Agency, said many of those who had insurance were under-insured, which adds further to the problem.

"Some farm homes that had been in the family for generations were insured at yesterday's values far less than what it will cost to repair or replace them at today's costs. Those homes were included in the 61 percent that have insurance, but there may be many in that group who need help as well," he said, adding that many more outbuildings and barns, also uninsured or underinsured, needed repair.

The request for federal assistance was made last Thursday by Missouri Gov. Matt Blunt after teams completed their assessments. Both Nay and Gliniecki said it could be several days before the decision is made.

In the meantime, Gliniecki said his group has been lining up volunteers to help with clean up and some minor home repairs.

"We've already had groups like the Southern Baptists, United Methodists, Mennonites and Lutherans helping with debris removal and other immediate response needs and we're in the process of working with churches in the area to establish long-term recovery committees, but first we'll have to see just how much help is going to be needed," he said.

Ed Hewlett, disaster relief coordinator for Schweitzer United Methodist Church in Springfield, said his church is ready to provide some of the assistance that will be required.


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More links on Tornadoes

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