The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Tornado: Resources & relief

June 14, 2011

RESOURCE: Red Cross moves shelter, residents to Webb City

JOPLIN, Mo. — After three weeks of living in the Red Cross shelter in Joplin, Virginia Davidson has a plan.

“FEMA said a trailer should be ready in one or two weeks,” she said.

Until then, she’ll be staying at the Red Cross’ new shelter, which was opened Tuesday in Webb City Junior High School on West First Street.

Red Cross spokeswoman Amy-Laurel Hegy said the new location’s size is more appropriate to the number of displaced people still in need of shelter. The site also is relatively close to the Joplin Humane Society’s shelter, where some pets of displaced residents are being held.

“Our staff has stayed in that location; it used to be one of our staff shelters,” Hegy said about the Webb City school.

Hegy said the school is a good fit, and “we know all the plumbing works.”

Shelter residents with vehicles moved on their own to the new shelter Tuesday afternoon from the Leggett & Platt Athletic Center at Missouri Southern State University. Those without their own transportation packed trash bags, boxes and crates, and loaded them into a truck to be moved to the new shelter. Families labeled their belongings with permanent markers and masking tape, while others used industrial trash cans with wheels to move boxes across the gym floor toward the waiting truck.

Most of those moving to the new shelter should be like Davidson and close to obtaining permanent living arrangements via the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

As of Monday night, 59 people were living in the shelter at MSSU. Not all of them transferred to the new location.

Those wishing to stay in the new shelter had to provide proof of their previous address. Hegy said address verification could be anything from lease or utility documentation to mail to corroboration from landlords, friends and family. She said the requirement did not apply at MSSU, but that those who stayed there were given ample notice of the requirement for the new shelter.

Hegy said making sure shelter residents were actually affected the storm is about “protecting the donor dollar,” and making sure donated money goes only to those for whom it is intended.

“We’re not here to arbitrarily put people out,” she said.

Hegy said she knew of some people who were frustrated with the address verification requirement, and of two households that either could not or would not provide a verifiable address despite “intensive assistance.” Those households were no longer eligible to stay in the shelter and were asked to leave. She said they would be welcome at the new shelter if they returned with proof of their former address.

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Tornado: Resources & relief