Before the sun rose in southwest Missouri on Monday morning, aid workers from around the country were converging on the city of Joplin and surrounding areas that were hit by a devastating tornado Sunday evening.
At press time on Monday, May 23, the death toll was reported at 116, making it the second deadliest tornado in Missouri history. An 1896 tornado in St. Louis left 255 dead.
Gov. Jay Nixon acted shortly after the storm hit Sunday, May 22, to activate the Missouri National Guard to respond to the Joplin area. Also dispatched to the area was a specialized search-and-rescue team, as well as state troopers from around the state.
“As a state we are deploying every agency and resource available,” the governor’s office said in a statement.
Speaking on CNN, the governor said, “We are responding aggressively, quickly.”
President Barack Obama spoke with the governor by phone Monday morning. The president announced that the Federal Emergency Management Agency was working with state and local agencies.
The governor’s office encouraged anyone who needs disaster information, shelter information or referrals to call 211. The 211 service number is described as being available for most areas in Missouri. In areas not serviced by the 211 number, people can call 800-427-4626.