Resources, support provided by University of Missouri System after devastating storms

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Christian Basi

May 23, 2019

COLUMBIA, Mo. – The University of Missouri System and its four universities are offering assistance to those affected by the violent tornadoes that touched down in Jefferson City, Golden City, Carl Junction and Eldon last night. Leaders from the four universities have been in contact with state and local officials to offer resources and assistance, including housing for those displaced and help with cleanup efforts. MU Health Care also has pledged up to $50,000 in financial support and has provided first responders. 

“We want the people of Missouri to know that their state university will always respond and help when disaster strikes,” said Mun Choi, president of the University of Missouri system. “Our leaders have been working since before the storms hit to prepare and respond with the full power of the university.”

Guirong (Grace) Yan, assistant professor of structural engineering at Missouri University of Science and Technology, is helping to assess damage from the Jefferson City tornado. She will use this data to develop recommendations for tornado-resistant building design and to improve building codes in the future. 

Jonathan Curtright, CEO of MU Health Care, announced up to $50,000 in financial support to Capital Region Medical Center for health care workers and their dependents suffering from the trauma of the tornado. Capital Region Medical Center is an affiliate of MU Health Care based in Jefferson City. MU Health Care also sent two ambulances with emergency medical services personnel to Jefferson City to assist early this morning.

“Our mission is to save and improve lives, and we are deeply committed to serving the people in our community and in our state, especially in times of need,” Curtright said. “Our colleagues at Capital Region Medical Center are family, and we are providing tangible support to employees who been affected by this natural disaster.” 

The MU Police Department sent seven officers, including MUPD Chief Doug Schwandt, to help with the response to the tornado damage in Jefferson City. 

As communities hit by the storms recover, rising flood waters will create additional issues for travel and infrastructure. Conne Burnham, director of MU Extension’s Community Emergency Management Program, is working with specialists throughout the state to monitor the impact from storms and to provide educational and technical assistance to individuals and families, local governments, schools, and organizations. 

Burnham offers the following tips when dealing with a tornado: 

  1. Know what to listen for. A “tornado watch” is issued when tornadoes are possible; a “tornado warning” is issued when a tornado has been reported or indicated by weather radar. 
  2. Before the storm, develop a plan for home, work, school and outdoor activities. Have a disaster supply kit ready. 
  3. During the storm, move to a pre-designated shelter, stay away from windows and get out of automobiles. If caught outside, lie flat in a nearby ditch or depression. 

Suzanna Long and Steven Corns with Missouri S&T’s engineering management and systems engineering department have developed a city planning tool to help communities recover from natural disasters such as tornadoes. The researchers developed the tool in partnership with the U.S. Geological Survey. 

“Our thoughts are with all Missourians who were affected by these storms as they begin to recover,” said Marshall Stewart, chief engagement officer at the UM System and vice chancellor for extension and engagement at MU. “With several areas also being threatened by potential flooding, I want our residents to know that the entire University of Missouri System is committed to helping communities prepare and respond to natural disasters.” 

Temporary housing is available at MU for affected University of Missouri employees, students and their families as well as those connected to Lincoln University displaced by the storms. Those interested in housing should contact MU Residential Life at 573-882-7275.

On Friday, the Cole County Emergency Management Agency will open a voluntary reception center in Jefferson City. Choi encourages those hoping to volunteer during the recovery to call 2-1-1, the United Way’s toll-free number, to connect people with community resources and volunteer opportunities. 

Visit MU Extension for more information and additional resources on how to prepare for and deal with tornadoes.  

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