Monday, May 23, 2011 – The Missouri Department of Transportation reopened Interstate 44 and U.S. 71 in Joplin this morning following last night’s devastating storm. MoDOT closed the roadways overnight due to tornado damage, including several overturned tractor trailers.
MoDOT urged drivers to fuel up anywhere but Joplin for the time being because of electrical outages and the general chaos in the area.
“At this time, we recommend that drivers fuel up anywhere but Joplin,” MoDOT officials stated. “Though several fueling stations received little or no damage, electrical power is not fully restored across the area.”
Some truck stops said they were open for business.
A MoDOT spokeswoman acknowledged that, yes, some places were fueling, but lines were long and drivers would be best advised to fuel up in nearby Springfield, MO, or on the Oklahoma side.
Business 71, also known as Rangeline, remained closed Monday morning between 10th and 24th Street.
“Continue to use alternate routes such as Interstate 70 or U.S. 60 if possible. Please do not exit into Joplin to have a look. The less traffic on local routes and highways, the better emergency response can operate,” MoDOT stated.
The Oklahoma Highway Patrol issued a similar advisory Sunday evening to divert traffic away from Joplin.
As of Monday morning, approximately 20,000 customers were without power according to Joplin-based Empire District Electrical Company, which serves 215,000 in the Four State region.