May 11, 2009
State of Emergency declared by Governor on May 8 immediately after strong storm system moves through southern Missouri
Gov. Nixon visits Missouri towns hit by severe weather
JEFFERSON CITY - Gov. Jay Nixon traveled to southwest Missouri on Saturday (May 9) to view damage caused by a strong storm system that moved through the state on May 8. The Governor stopped at Fair Grove High School, just north of Springfield, where high winds tore off the roof over several parts of the school, including an interior hallway where students had taken shelter. Four students were injured by debris, but there were no fatalities at the school. There have been four storm-related fatalities reported elsewhere in Missouri.
"The fact that there were no fatalities or serious injuries here at Fair Grove High School is largely due to the calm, rapid way the staff and students responded during this emergency," Gov. Nixon said. "We are very thankful that the situation at the school was not worse, given the extent of the damage. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the families of those killed by these storms."
Fair Grove R-10 School District Superintendent John Link escorted the Governor through the classrooms and hallway that were damaged the most by the storm. The Governor also met with local emergency responders, who he also praised for their quick arrival on the scene.
Immediately before visiting the high school, Gov. Nixon viewed by air the Dallas County community of Charity, where several houses were badly damaged or destroyed. One resident of Charity died as a result of the storm.
The Governor also met on Saturday with local officials and residents in Carl Junction, just outside Joplin, at the local fire department. Tens of thousands of residents in greater Joplin area were left without power after Friday's storm, which also uprooted numerous trees and tore down many large tree limbs. The Governor, who was accompanied by Missouri Department of Public Safety Director John Britt and Col James Keathley, superintendent of the Missouri State Highway Patrol, asked the officials what assistance they needed from the state in the wake of the storms, and promised them the state would continue to move quickly to help.
On Friday, immediately after being briefed at the State Emergency Management Agency, the Governor signed a State of Emergency Executive Order. The executive order activated the Missouri State Emergency Operations Plan, which opened the State Emergency Operations Center (SEOC) and allowed state agencies to assist local jurisdictions with their emergency protective actions.
"We want to ensure we are taking every action we can to help our fellow Missourians in need after this natural disaster," Gov. Nixon said.
State agencies that can be activated for duty under the order include: Missouri Department of Public Safety, State Emergency Management Agency, Missouri State Highway Patrol, Missouri State Water Patrol, Division of Fire Safety, Department of Agriculture, Department of Conservation, Department of Corrections, Department of Health and Senior Services, Department of Mental Health, Department of Natural Resources, Department of Social Services, Department of Transportation and the Office of Administration.