By Debby Woodin
JOPLIN, Mo. —
Another person has been listed as a victim of the May 22 tornado, bringing the official death toll to 160.
That victim is J.T. Strickland, 85, 2125 S. Virginia Ave. Strickland was a motel manager and Korean War veteran who died July 8 at a Monett nursing home of injuries he suffered in the tornado, according to Simpson Funeral Home, Webb City.
His funeral was held July 17 at Bethany Presbyterian Church in Joplin. The home he shared with his wife, Betty, was destroyed by the storm.
The ruling by Jasper County Coroner Rob Chappel to add Strickland to the list of fatalities was among several announcements made Thursday at a city news conference.
City Manager Mark Rohr said residents who want to rebuild in any area of the tornado zone are now free to do so. A hold on residential building permits that was adopted June 20 by the City Council to accommodate expedited debris removal was lifted throughout the city on Thursday.
The council had authorized a 60-day hold. Rohr said the hold had been in effect 38 days. He said that by allowing residential reconstruction to resume without further restriction, city officials had upheld their pledge to lift the hold as soon as possible.
The amount of debris removed by government contractors stood at 80 percent on Thursday, “which I think is outstanding,” Rohr said. About 300 lots remain to be cleared, he said.
Rohr also encouraged residents who can afford to move on to demolition of their damaged homes or who have insurance to cover the cost of demolition to proceed. He said the city would announce details of a demolition phase of the recovery, including any assistance available for it, next week.
Demolition permits are required, but there is no fee for them through the end of the year.
Some resources could be available to residents who need assistance with rebuilding, and that information will be available later, Rohr said. He said the city has made some requests for funding to help with that.
“We hope to have a presentation to the public on those tools in the not-too-distant future,” Rohr said.
Owners of commercial properties are encouraged to meet an Aug. 8 deadline for debris removal, Rohr said. He asked that those who cannot do so for any reason notify the city of their status by dialing 624-0820, ext. 539. He said the city may have information that could help business property owners. If a contract exists, the city could make allowances for later removal, Rohr said.
The debris and demolition phases will include cutting trees that arborists say will not survive damage sustained from the tornado. Rohr said the city is assembling information about tree donations that will be made to residents and to the city, and is developing a plan for replanting efforts. More information about that will be available later, he said.
Clearing efforts have been aided by volunteers. So far, 69,088 registered volunteers have logged 337,627 hours in the cleanup work.
A total of 3,391 families are receiving rental assistance, according to information supplied to the city by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Rohr said.
Comments made by residents at an open house July 12 on ideas for Joplin’s rebuilding have been assembled into a 47-page booklet. The booklets will be made available, and residents can access them now on the websites joplinmo.org, joplincc.com and rebuildjoplin.org.
Another public session is planned for reviewing the ideas suggested at the open house and to solicit more public input on them. That session is tentatively scheduled for Aug. 16.
DEMOLITION PERMITS are available at the Public Works Department on the fourth floor of City Hall, 602 S. Main St.