Missouri Reports Strong Progress in Recovery Following Tornadoes and Severe Storms; Building Assessments Underway in Jefferson City

MAY 24, 2019

 — Governor Mike Parson this afternoon commended public safety and public works crews, businesses and utilities, and volunteers whose work is speeding Missouri’s recovery from a historic night of severe storms on May 22.

In Jefferson City, a team of volunteer engineers, architects, building inspectors, and other trained professionals today began assessing the estimated 500 homes and buildings believed to have sustained damage to determine which are safe and which should be evacuated. On Saturday, the Missouri Structural Assessment and Visual Evaluation (S.A.V.E.) Coalition is expected to evaluate about 200 additional structures in Cole County that are reported to have been damaged.  

Of the first 321 structures reviewed today, the S.A.V.E. Coalition reported the following:

  • 78 Unsafe (Severely damaged and cannot be occupied – Red placard.)
  • 60 Restricted Use (A portion of the building is unsafe – Yellow placard.)
  • 183 Safe for Reentry (Structurally safe to occupy – Green placard.)

The S.A.V.E. team, which works under the Missouri State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA), is assisting the Jefferson City Building Department.

S.A.V.E. inspections are exterior inspections only. Inspectors look for structural damage, such as partially collapsed buildings, buildings moved off their foundations, leaning buildings, damage to supports, falling hazards from chimneys or walls, or other hazards like gas leaks or downed power lines.

“As they always do, Missourians are meeting difficult circumstances with grit, determination, hard work, and good will,” Governor Parson said. “As I traveled the state yesterday and observed the devastation from Wednesday night storms, I saw people hard at work and lending a hand everywhere I went. Missouri utilities and businesses have brought on extra workers and are working extended shifts; public service workers are doing yeoman’s work, and volunteers are making a difference. The results are clear. Missouri is making strong progress in our recovery from this challenge.”

Governor Parson pointed to progress in these other areas:

  • State Facilities Restoration: The Missouri Office of Administration (OA) has taken the following actions so that all state employees can return to work on Tuesday: begun cleanup efforts, worked with contractors to repair damaged buildings and roofs, worked with Ameren Missouri to restore power to several buildings, recovered IT equipment from damaged buildings, and identified temporary work spaces for employees in damaged buildings. At the Division of Employment Security building on Dunklin Street, OA has assisted in moving employees to temporary work spaces and worked to repair the HVAC system, as well as cleaning debris and helping Ameren Missouri restore power to the building.
  • Power Restoration: Efforts by Ameren Missouri and Three Rivers Electric Cooperative, bolstered by additional crews, have greatly reduced outages. Friday morning, in the Jefferson City area, Ameren Missouri was reporting about 3,000 outages. Three Rivers Electric was reporting about 900 outages in Cole County and about 250 in Miller County. Power is expected to be completely restored Saturday. There were more than 14,000 total outages on Thursday.
  • Communications Restoration: Verizon, which sustained damage that affected 19 sites in the Jefferson City area has deployed three mobile cellular sites and a mobile community center at City Hall to support first responders and affected community members with wireless communications. The company is also providing a recharging station, laptops with internet connectivity, and an air-conditioned mobile facility to support survivors and volunteers. It’s also offering unlimited calling, text, and data for customers impacted by the Missouri tornadoes.
  • Communications Restoration: U.S. Cellular, whose service was affected by the storms in Miller, Barton, and Jasper counties, deployed generators and partnered with another carrier to raise call capacity.
  • Law Enforcement: In addition to assisting local public safety agencies responding to calls for service, search and rescue, and security details in Jefferson City, Golden City and Carl Junction, the Missouri State Highway Patrol provided 21 of its law enforcement academy recruits to direct traffic in damaged areas of Jefferson City on Thursday. Also, nine Patrol troopers assisted by handling regular police calls for service in the Jefferson City area on Thursday. Patrol aircraft have been assisting with aerial damage assessments.

Governor Parson also urged Missourians to pay close attention to the weather over the Memorial Day weekend because of expected heavy rainfall that could worsen flooding and the potential for severe weather. The National Weather Service Kansas City Office is forecasting up to three inches of rain in northwest Missouri by early Saturday morning, resulting in a Flash Flood Watch. The Kansas City NWS office is calling for a total of 4-6 inches of rainfall for parts of Missouri over the next seven days. This is now expected to push flooded rivers to higher levels than previously forecast.