Joplin has been granted an extension on a federal disaster recovery grant, saving the city roughly $1 million that will be used to repair infrastructure damaged in the 2011 tornado, according to a news release from Missouri’s U.S. senators.

“This extension gives Joplin more time to complete the critical infrastructure projects that’ll continue to help the city’s roads recover from the devastating tornado,” Sen. Claire McCaskill said in a statement. “It’s good news for the city, and for taxpayers — giving Joplin the flexibility to sequence its projects in a way that’ll reduce wasteful spending.”

Conflicting timelines for two federal infrastructure grants prompted the city to request an extension of about a year from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. One grant provided for surface-level street repairs, the other for improvements to underground infrastructure. But the surface-level work was set to be completed first, potentially forcing crews to cut open streets they had just finished repairing.

Having missed the deadline for using the federal funds, the city risked losing part of the grant. Now, it has until August 2018 to repair sidewalks, streets, curbs, catch basins and gutters in the area damaged by an EF5 tornado in May 2011.

“I think it’s good news,” Sam Anselm, city administrator, said of the extension. “We’ll keep plugging away to complete our work by August of next year.”

He said the city is on schedule to complete the work. City officials have not received formal confirmation of the extension, Anselm noted, though several elected officials say it will be granted.

McCaskill and Sen. Roy Blunt lobbied FEMA officials for the extension in a letter earlier this year. Anselm asked for their help, writing that hurricanes in the southern U.S. threatened to draw attention away from Joplin’s request.

“The Joplin tornado had a devastating impact on much of the local infrastructure, and the federal government can help ensure the community continues to have the support it needs to rebuild,” Blunt said. “This extension will provide much-needed flexibility for recovery efforts that still need to be done.”

Federal funding

Since the 2011 tornado, the city has received $2.7 million in disaster recovery funds from FEMA and $158 million from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

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