Representatives from the office of Missouri Treasurer Scott Fitzpatrick on Wednesday wrapped up a two-day visit to Joplin to help return unclaimed property to residents.
The visit nearly coincided with the eighth anniversary last week of the May 22, 2011, tornado, after which state officials hoped to address lingering issues of unclaimed property stemming from the disaster.
“The tornado caused so much disruption,” said Scott Harper, director of the state's Unclaimed Property Division. “It created unclaimed property in Joplin, and we’re trying to address that. It’s interesting and tragic all at the same time.”
Their Tuesday stop was at Northpark Mall, where they had total returns worth $10,000. On Wednesday, they were set up at the Joplin Public Library, where people lined up waiting for their turn to reclaim property. The returns from the library visit were worth approximately $3,000, meaning that more than $13,000 worth of property was returned to area residents over the past two days.
One individual reunited with lost property was Diane West, who reclaimed $15.
“It’ll be seven to 10 days before I get it, but I’m happy,” West said.
Another resident, James Dutton, recovered only 40 cents, but he said he was still happy to get something out of the trip to the library.
“It’s helpful for the people that lost stuff and didn’t know about it,” Dutton said. “At least I got something out of it today.”
Yancy Persinger said he had been trying for five years to reclaim a court deposit that he had made 10 years ago. The address associated with it was one where he had never lived — it was the address of his place of business.
But he originally did not come to the library Wednesday looking for unclaimed property.
“I was actually (at the library) for other business — downloading and printing things off and such,” Persinger said. “I saw the sign up that the State Treasurer’s Office was here and decided to check it out.”
By the end of the afternoon, Persinger was on his way to getting his deposit back after updating his address.
“I’m glad that it all worked out well today,” Persinger said. “It means a lot to finally get all of this resolved after so long.”
Fitzpatrick, the state treasurer, said his office has processed more than 500 returns worth $250,000 for Joplin-area residents since the 2011 tornado.