A retiring official of the Federal Emergency Management Agency who directed much of that agency’s response to Joplin’s 2011 tornado was recognized Friday by the city of Joplin.
Richard Serino, the deputy administrator of FEMA, was presented a proclamation by Mayor Melodee Colbert-Kean during his last visit to Joplin before he retires on Jan. 23.
A ceremony was held by the city to honor Serino during a tour of the new Fire Station No. 4 at 3402 Hearnes Blvd. That station replaces one of the city’s two fire stations that were destroyed by the tornado. FEMA erected temporary fire stations while replacements were built and helped to pay the cost of new stations.
“The city of Joplin truly appreciates Rich’s commitment and work immediately following the disaster that expedited the federal response to our area,” the mayor said during the ceremony. She said he also has continued to monitor Joplin’s progress to assure that adequate federal resources were provided for the recovery.
Firefighters moved into the new fire stations the week of Christmas. The Hearnes Boulevard station replaced a station that had been located at 2010 E. 15th St. before the tornado. The second new station, at 2825 W. 13th St., replaced one that had been located at 2216 S. Maiden Lane.
Construction costs initially listed were $1.618 million for No. 2 and $1.565 million for No. 4. The city’s finance director said earlier that FEMA will reimburse some of the cost of rebuilding those stations.
Serino arrived in Joplin the morning after the tornado to assess what federal assistance would be needed for the rescue and recovery in the wake of the EF-5 storm that hit Joplin, Duquesne and rural areas of Jasper and Newton counties and resulted in 161 deaths.
The city’s proclamation also cited Serino’s work to hold a “Think Tank” session broadcast from the Missouri Southern State University campus on disaster recovery. The session involved emergency managers from throughout the U.S. and showed the efforts made by city officials, community leaders and residents to keep the recovery progressing.
Serino also visited Irving School, one of Joplin’s newly built elementary schools that replaces schools destroyed in the storm.
According to the proclamation, Richard Serino, deputy administrator of FEMA, made the visit to Joplin one of his last official acts before leaving his job.