Jeremy Hobson: Today is a day of remembrance in Joplin, Missouri, one year since the nations deadliest tornado in 60 years killed 161 people there. Thousands of buildings were also destroyed, including Joplin’s only public high school.
We are joined now by the Mayor Pro Tem of Joplin, Bill Scearce. Mr. Mayor, good morning.
Mayor Scearce: Good morning.
Hobson: Mr. Mayor give us a sense of what the city looks like a year after the tornado. Can you still see the damage everywhere?
Scearce: Well, you can see the results of the damage. Most of the debris has been cleaned up, almost one hundred percent of it has been cleaned up, but you can see the results of the damage. Where there used to be homes, there’s just some vacant property still left. Very few businesses have not built back. Less than 40 businesses have indicated that they will not rebuild. In light of that, we have 20 brand new businesses that have been constructed in the tornado zone, which gives us a net loss of about 19 businesses, which we think is phenomenal.
Hobson: Where has most of the financial assistance come from? From the state, from the federal government, from private organizations and charities?
Scearce: Well, generally its been a mix of all, thank goodness. We’ve had great help from FEMA, we’ve had great help from the state of Missouri, which has done things for us, many, many of the faith-based operations and the volunteer groups, Americorp, which coordinates all the volunteers. I can’t stress enough, without all the volunteers, and I would like to personally thank each and everyone one of them that happen to be listening to you today and if not, I still want to thank them for the job that they have done for us. They’ve given up their time and lives with their family to come here and help us in this recovery effort.
Hobson: How are you feeling this morning? It must be a pretty emotional day.
Scearce: Well it always is, particularly when I realize that my daughter and her family were at what I considered to be ground zero and they lost their home. They’re fine, physically they’re fine, they are still suffering a little bit emotionally from it, and they went through some counseling. It is emotional for all of us.
Hobson: Bill Scearce is the Mayor Pro Tem of Joplin, Missouri. Mr. Mayor, thanks so much and best of luck.
Scearce: Well thank you, and tell the people out there we still need help.
Hobson: We will do.
Scearce: Thank you.