JOPLIN, Mo. —
Paul Burrington said that before the May 22 tornado, his family’s property at the end of Marwalk Drive near Duquesne was a secluded sanctuary, often attracting scores of deer.
Now, 21 of the trees that had surrounded the home are on the ground, and Burrington is wondering how he’s going to get rid of all that lumber and other tornado debris.
Burrington and his wife, Patti, say they are watching what’s going on with debris removal in Joplin and Duquesne, but they are uncertain at this point whether that will extend to their property.
The Burringtons’ home is one of a number of tornado-damaged properties in Jasper County that are outside of any city limits. Paul Burrington said county crews were working down the road for a time, but then left.
“We pay the same taxes as everyone else, so we’re wondering what’s going to happen,” he said. “Really, we’re just hoping to get rid of the smaller limbs and debris. If they don’t do anything, I’ll just split the logs for firewood.”
John Bartosh, presiding county commissioner, said the county wants to help residents in the unincorporated areas, but there were some complications in working out details with the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers.
County road crews had started some work, because the commissioners at first planned to use county workers and seek reimbursement from FEMA. County residents’ loose debris will be picked up, but the county is having to go through most of the steps required of Joplin and Duquesne, and the work is to be completed under federal contract, said Norman Rouse, attorney for the commission.
“Since the county doesn’t have the ability for condemnation or nuisance ordinances or anything, we thought at first we wouldn’t qualify (for reimbursement),” he said. “So the commission decided the county would just go ahead and do it ourselves.”
After discussions with FEMA, the county asked homeowners to sign the same right-of-entry letters being used in Joplin and Duquesne. About 26 have been returned so far, and the forms still are being accepted, according to Darieus Adams, Western District associate commissioner.
“We’ve got most of them in-house, and insurance companies have to be contacted, so Joplin is helping us out with that,” he said. “Once that’s done, we’ll turn them over to FEMA, and the corps will start work. Now, we can put that into motion.”