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St. John's Regional Medical Center in Joplin has evacuated its patients to hospitals throughout the region after being struck by a tornado on May 22.
St. John's Regional Medical Center in Joplin has evacuated its patients to hospitals throughout the region after being struck by a tornado on May 22.

Joplin tornado impacts 2,000 homes, businesses

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News of the impact of a tornado that hit Joplin the evening of May 22 is continuing to come forward as local and state agencies respond to the widespread devastation in the area.

According to Chris Roberts, editor of Joplin Tri-State Business Journal, a number of notable businesses in the city were destroyed including Papa John’s, Walgreens and Feerick’s at the corner of 20th Street and Main Street. A nearby Dillon’s Supermarket, an Arby’s and a Kum N Go were among the businesses leveled by the twister, according to Roberts. Other Joplin businesses or public areas destroyed in part or whole include the Joplin High School, Home Depot, Wal-Mart, Academy Sports, Oxford Healthcare and a number of doctors offices across from the St. John’s Regional Medical Center.

Sgt. Paul Reinsch of the Missouri State Highway Patrol confirmed 90 deaths as of 10:30 a.m.

“Our last estimate is that about 2,000 total structures were damaged, that includes houses, apartments, the hospital and businesses there,” Reinsch said.

He said rescue efforts were ongoing and law enforcement officers were setting up a perimeter to keep people out of the areas most directly impacted by the tornado. He said a number of downed power lines have presented a danger to first responders and others.

St. John’s Regional Medical Center in Joplin has been a focus of several local and national reports. The hospital has received extensive damage and been evacuated, according to a news release from Sisters of Mercy Health Systems. It is unknown how many of its 183 patients were injured as a result of the tornado.

Patients are continuing to be triaged and sent to medical centers throughout the region, including St. John’s Hospital in Springfield, which has received 40 individuals from the Joplin area as of this morning, according to the release. CoxHealth has reportedly received 90 patients from the area.

St. John’s co-workers in Joplin are being asked not to report to work until further notice. A command center in Springfield has mobilized the system’s response utilizing supplies and manpower through medical centers in Missouri, Kansas, Arkansas, and Oklahoma, according to a St. John’s news release.

Gov. Jay Nixon has declared a state of emergency and activated the State Emergency Operations Center. Area and state law enforcement agencies are coordinating search, rescue and recovery operations and the Missouri State Highway Patrol is sending troopers from other regions to support their efforts. Reinsch said 40 Troop D troopers have been sent to the area. Specialized emergency response teams, including Missouri’s Disaster Medical Assistance Team 1, also are deploying to the Joplin area to provide aid and assistance.

“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,” Nixon said in a news release. “I have ordered the Missouri National Guard to deploy citizen-soldiers and assets to support local law enforcement agencies with emergency coordination and recovery.”

Those looking for lost loved ones can call the Red Cross at (417) 624-4411 or search here. A volunteer task force hotline has been set up for those looking to help at (314) 623-9991.

Roberts said the Joplin Area Chamber of Commerce is operating out of the Joseph Newman Innovation and Technology Center at the corner of Fourth Street and Pennsylvania Avenue due to power outages at its building and working to help businesses and individuals there however it can.

According to a news release from City Utilities, four line crews have been sent to provide assistance to the Empire District Electric Co. with an estimated 60 electric transmission poles being downed due to the storm.

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