Deadly Storms Continue as Joplin Residents Pick Up the Pieces

Severe weather continues to threaten the lower Midwest just days after the deadliest tornado in 60 years killed at least 122 people in Joplin, Mo. Tornadoes touched down in Kansas, Oklahoma, and Arkansas on Tuesday night and Wednesday morning, killing an additional 14 people.

At least two tornadoes touched down in Kansas City Wednesday afternoon, according to the National Weather Service, but no damage has been reported.

As severe weather threatens the entire region, KCUR in Kansas City, Mo. is reminding listeners to be vigilant. Sharon Watson of the Kansas Division of Emergency Management told Bryan Thompson of KCUR that a cell phone is a key emergency tool. “Individuals are being rescued out of Joplin because they had a cell phone in their pocket and were able to get a cell phone out.”

Meanwhile, search and rescue efforts continue in Joplin, where city officials are combing over areas they’ve already surveyed, hoping to find more tornado survivors.

St. John’s Regional Medical center was one of the many buildings destroyed by the tornado. Five patients and one visitor were reportedly killed in the storm and 153 patients were evacuated from the building. Reporter Jennifer Moore of KSMU spoke with medical staff in Joplin. “Surgeons were in the middle of operating when the lights went out and they had to finish surgery with flashlights,” Moore told NewsHour’s Hari Sreenivasan.

_Listen to the full conversation between Jennifer Moore and Hari Sreenivasan:_

Now, engineers are trying to determine if it is safe to rebuild on the base of the hospital structure, or if they’ll have to rebuild completely. Moore reports that they will be setting up a tent hospital “which will be able to withstand winds of 100 miles per hour” on the grounds of the current hospital to meet the increasing medical demands of survivors. Days after the storm, medical responders are seeing fewer of the head injuries and broken limbs suffered during the storm and more “injuries sustained by people actually combing through debris” and “folks who have lost their medication,” according to Moore.

Finally, hospital officials are working to collect the many medical records that were scattered as far away as Springfield, Mo., some 70 miles away. Moore says the hospital transitioned to an electronic database just three weeks ago. Still, the hospital is worried about privacy breaches and is asking people who have found documents to hold onto them while it formulates a policy on how to have them returned.