The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

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September 5, 2012

Downburst damages Joplin courts building

Storm leaves 4,000 residents without power

JOPLIN, Mo. — A downburst from a short-lived thunderstorm early Wednesday blew off part of the roof at the Jasper County Courts Building at Sixth Street and Pearl Avenue in Joplin. The storm caused other minor damage in the region.

Styrofoam insulation from the roof of the courts building was scattered in chunks across a wide area southeast of the building. Pieces of debris also were visible on West Seventh Street.

The wind also peeled away the front wall of Regal Car Sales and Credit at 805 E. Seventh St., and caused damage at Midwest Airend and Pump, 720 E. Fourth St.

“It peeled off part of the roof and blew it into the lot to the west,” said Shon Mefford, owner of Midwest Airend, which remained open.

The storm downed tree limbs in Ewert Park and elsewhere in Joplin.

The storm, which struck about 6:15 a.m., caused scattered power outages across the region when debris and limbs became entangled with power lines. Most of the outages were in Joplin and the Scammon-Weir area in Cherokee County, Kan., where winds also damaged some outbuildings.

After the storm, an estimated 4,000 people were without power, said Amy Bass, spokeswoman for Empire District Electric Co.

Contract crews and line crews from other areas were brought in to help with the repairs. Power was restored throughout the affected areas before 1 p.m., Bass said.

Courts building

Darieus Adams, Western District associate commissioner of Jasper County, said: “The wind peeled back the north end of the courthouse roof. About a third of it is gone. That let rainwater in. We have water damage in the north end from the third floor to the bottom floor.”

Workers in the building covered documents and case files to protect them from further water damage Wednesday morning. Adams said about 80 employees were sent home later Wednesday, the busiest court day of the week. The courts building also will be closed today.

The county collector’s office in the Joplin courts building will be closed for the rest of the week, said Steve Holt, county collector.

Phillip Camerer, a Neosho roofer who has been hired by the county to fix the roof at the building, said: “You couldn’t miss it. There was insulation on the ground all of the way from the courthouse parking lot to Seventh Street.”

Camerer said that based on observed damage from previous storms, it is likely that the damage was caused by an isolated downburst.

He said it is possible that the roof will be secured today. If that happens, Adams said, work in the courts building could resume Friday.

Large pieces of the roof blocked Wall Avenue between Sixth and Seventh streets. A worker with Empire District and Stewart Rouse, owner of Wall Street Automotive, picked up the debris and hauled it to the parking lot at the courts building.

“We just got it out of the street and took it to the courthouse lot,” Rouse said. “We knew they would pick it up there.”

Jasper County Highway Department trucks carried the debris away.

“That insulation was everywhere. It must have been awfully strong winds to blow that stuff to Seventh Street,” said Rouse, noting that electrical power to his business was restored about 8:40 a.m.

Joplin fire Chief Mitch Randles said the storm caused minor damage to a couple of roofs along Langston Hughes-Broadway, and downed several tree limbs.

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