May 26th, 2011
12:20 PM ET

After the chaos: Digging through the damage, searching for the missing

Officials will release a list of 232 people officially reported missing or unaccounted for following the tornado that destroyed much of Joplin, Missouri.

View the list (PDF)

"Our goal is to get that number to 0," Andrea Spillers, deputy director of the Missouri Department of Public Safety said Thursday. "We will dedicate as much state resources as needed, around-the-clock, to make sure all of those family members that have loved ones that cannot be found are connected."

Authorities urged residents who may have been reported unaccounted for to let officials know they are okay by calling following number: (417) 895-6868. Those needing to report someone missing to law enforcement should call (417) 659-5464.

The release will come as frustrations and worries continue to mount in Joplin, where 125 people died and a large group of people remain unaccounted for, following the storm. As those hit the hardest struggle with the loss of homes, lives and entire livelihoods, many in the town simply are trying to figure out if those they know and love survived the tornadoes. Families have made public pleas to the media, on Facebook, Twitter and wherever they can in hopes of finding any information about whether their loved ones survived the devastation.

The destruction in Joplin was part of a wave of several powerful storms that battered the nation's heartland this week. The tornadoes just kept coming and coming, bringing death, destruction and four days of fury to the Midwest.

These storms flattened whole towns and separated families. The images are devastating. There are many people in great need of help - for their families and in finding those missing from the storms. Below you'll find their stories and how you can help them.

In the days after the storms our reporters saw the destruction firsthand and heard unbelievable tales of both survival and heartbreaking tales of missing people.

And you brought us powerful pictures and stories, sharing the impact and showing the destruction as you witnessed it using CNN iReport's Open Story.

Powerful stories of survival emerged: people told of how they clung to anything they could to survive the brutal storms. Some hid in freezers, others in their bathrooms with their families, some in shelters built for this specific reason.

On the ground, in all of the areas hit by tornadoes, most of the people say their lives will never be the same. They'll struggle to find a way to move on and to rebuild, and in some cases keep the memory of their loved ones alive.

So if you're looking to help, here are some other ways people and groups around the country are trying to help those battered by the storms unite together and start to recover:

Red Cross: List yourself as safe and well or search for a loved one online or call (417) 659-5464. If you have medical or pharmaceutical emergencies, you can also call the Red Cross at (417) 832-9500.

Officials said those looking to volunteer can call (417) 625-3543. Those looking to make donations can do so on the Red Cross website or by calling (417) 625-3542.

Facebook has also become a massive platform for those creating virtual message boards to try to find out the status of loved ones. The Joplin Globe sets up a Facebook page to link survivors with family and friends. There's a Joplin Loved Ones page, a Joplin lost and found page, a Joplin Tornado Citizen Checks, a group for Joplin People Accounted for after the storm, a group for those who are missing, and one set up for victims and relief efforts.

And if you're looking to help those in need, we've got all the resources you need.

Post by:
Filed under: Joplin • Missouri • Oklahoma • Tornadoes • Weather
soundoff (200 Responses)
  1. LOVE from Maryland

    To all those affected by the recent devestation, my love goes out to you. May you find the inner strength and light to carry you through the heartbreaks that you have suffered, and the days ahead that will test your soul. Know that there are people out here who hold you in their thoughts and hearts. Being a mom, I could never fully comprehend the trauma of literally having your baby ripped from your arms. For all the people who have lost their loved ones, I hope that warm and loving memories will keep you comforted when you need it most. To all of those playing the blame game, what a lot of energy that could be used to help, instead of bickering.

    May 26, 2011 at 10:27 pm | Report abuse |
  2. sayers48

    This is a horrible tragedy for everyone. However, the authorities are doing the best they can in this situation. No one can ever be prepared for something like this.

    May 26, 2011 at 10:34 pm | Report abuse |
  3. noemi

    So were is sister sara and that blow fish john boehner and the rest of there possey? Hiding in there warm big well built homes.and how about the CULT member romney.where are u now?

    May 26, 2011 at 10:34 pm | Report abuse |
  4. DM

    To all of those that have lost or someone that has lost, my prayers do go out to you. This is a terrible thing that hs happened. There is a man named "Dutchsinse" on youtube who was able to predict these storms at least 24 to 48 hours in advanced. He lives in MO. I would suggest people check him out and view his videos. After viewing his videos I'm a frim believer these storms are caused by WEATHER MODIFICATION. Please try to be open minded and see for yourselfs before judging.

    May 26, 2011 at 10:54 pm | Report abuse |
  5. JC

    @ Sue and Len:
    The point is, that this one did not. Nor can they "spew up" without their associated fronts. This particular storm dropped several funnels in a path right towards Joplin, which were reported, and the times recorded... Check the record, assuming you can read. I have lots of friends in the midwest, and after speaking to them, I've come to the conclusion that the problem is, unlike my grandmother, who lived in Kansas and had a storm cellar, people in tornado alley tend to assume that it cannot happen to them. This is evident by the interviews. I tend to blame the public education systems in those states for producing citizens who cannot read, make logical conclusion, or comprehend when to get underground.

    May 26, 2011 at 11:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chrissy

      I am from Missouri. I was born and raised in this state. I am capable of reading, as well as making logical conclusions and comprehending the situations at hand. I grew up going through tornado drills in school at least twice a month in the spring, as I would think the residents of Joplin did. I just wanted to clear that up, since I am one of those unknowing midwest citizens produced by public schools.

      I also try not to judge people unfairly. I don't make decisions based on what the media tells me, and what I think I personally know. Whether the citizens of Joplin knew about the weather or not, it is not your place to deem them ignorant.

      I say all of this to make the point that none of this, yours or my opinion, really matter at this point. Blaming people and their decisions for what has already happened doesn't do anything but cause more distress. Telling people of the midwest that they are unschooled will not undo the devastation. It will not bring back the lives lost. It will not rebuild.

      So, from this lil midwest girl, can we please focus on supporting the community, not tearing them down?

      May 27, 2011 at 12:23 am | Report abuse |
    • UhRight

      JC – I normally don't write to boards like this, but your ignorant and condescending message compelled me. As a product of one of public education systems just outside of Joplin (and now an executive doing quite well in Fairfield County, CT), I am struck by the stupidity of your statement. A.) It was late Sunday afternoon. Many people were out and about (Home Depot, Wal-Mart, coming home from Joplin High School's graduation, eating out, etc.). Do you think there are storm bunkers for the masses on every street corner? B.) Warning? Do you know how many times citizens of Tornado Alley have been in or near tornadoes, only to have the siren go off before you have time to react or after the tornado passes? It's happened at least twice to me. C.) Do you have any idea of the power of an EF5? I wonder how many people will die from this storm that did make it to a basement? Several you can be assured. D.) ...Ah never mind... Probably wasting my time with you on this... Hope you've found some way to put that eccentricity of yours to good use in life.

      May 27, 2011 at 12:30 am | Report abuse |
    • missyjenjen

      JC...I can tell you from my personal experience during this tornado that the sirens went off about 20 minutes before the tornado hit. They were on for about two minutes and then stopped. This has happened several times in Joplin. They will sound the sirens, and then absolutely nothing comes of it. The sirens were not sounded again until the tornado was already starting to plow through town...its not that people are uneducated or cannot read, etc...lots of the homes in the areas hit are very old and did not have basements or storm shelters (my house being one of those)...and even some who did have basements, it didn't matter...the tornado was so massive it leveled everything, debris falling into the basements on top of people. There was just no escaping to safety from this tornado. Again, I go back to the issue of the was poor use of the sirens...sounding them for 2 minutes 20 minutes before the storm hit, and then stopping them, and not sounding them again until it was already too late.

      And as someone else said, it was a Sunday afternoon, and many people were out and about at places like Home Depot and Wal Mart that got demolished by the tornado. It has nothing to do with people not trying to take cover...this tornado was just too a lot of cases it just didn't matter if people took cover...

      May 27, 2011 at 1:05 am | Report abuse |
  6. brenda

    My heart goes out to the families and friends of the victims as well as all who were present during the tornado. I understand the town plans on rebuilding, which is a natural response. Considering the towns history, including,, as well as numerous other tornados in the area...I think moving a few miles away would be a great idea.

    May 26, 2011 at 11:39 pm | Report abuse |
  7. mark

    All dead maybe now they will change the building codes like FL did. LIVING IN A WOOD FRAME HOUSE IN THIS AREA IS FREAKING DUMB DUMB DUMB.

    More so then the people that rebuilding using the same crap that didnt work the first time!

    May 27, 2011 at 12:20 am | Report abuse |
    • UhRight

      Most brick and steel frame structures in the path of this one were leveled also. No structure survived.

      May 27, 2011 at 12:34 am | Report abuse |
    • mark

      Which is why you use a cement frame like they do in FL which over the years has been proven they can stand up to these winds just fine.

      May 27, 2011 at 1:23 am | Report abuse |
    • Col. Bat Guano

      Haha, no Mark. Wouldnt withstand an F5 tornado, which is like an atomic bomb. Not straight line winds.

      May 27, 2011 at 10:10 am | Report abuse |
    • Chrissy

      I'm not in construction, nor an architect, so this is just an assumption, but I'm guessing the Home Depot and Walmart were not wood frames, and they were leveled. Just sayin'.

      May 27, 2011 at 10:20 am | Report abuse |
  8. piggypam

    What I find contemptible ummduh is the fact that you do not care a fig that Mr. Cantor –R Virginia-plays fast and loose with people’s lives and puts his party above God, Country and his fellow Citizens. Mr. Cantor you are a foul human being right up there with Mr. Coburn –R Oklahoma. Missourians just joined the Haitians who are still waiting for relief that we the people gave and Mr. Coburn took away. May you both rot in hell! This is just one of the many reasons why we, as recovering ex-republicans, are never going back.

    May 27, 2011 at 1:47 am | Report abuse |
    • Cassidy

      Good for you Pam! Now scream it from the roof tops. There are too many people that view these elected officials as infallible and will blindly vote for them solely because the candidate has an (R) next to their name. Tell everyone you meet what Cantor has done. Holding disaster relief as a political hostage is deplorable.

      May 27, 2011 at 10:03 am | Report abuse |
  9. studdmuffins

    I deride the news networks quite often but stories of destruction through natural disaster should make us all consider what is truly important in life - read: each other.

    We had some local severe storms, albeit brief in comparison to other areas of the country, which caused me some minor basement flooding. After seeing what Joplin and folks in and around the Mississippi have had to deal with my loss of a few material items is nothing.

    May 27, 2011 at 6:03 am | Report abuse |
  10. JOE

    Don't accuse Obama of not being in Joplin. The president cannot foresee mother nature and predict natural desasters in advance and arrange his schedule to be at home to visit a devestated site within an hour of a desaster striking. Just get that through your uneducated southern/midwestern heads you morons. Obama's European trip was planned way before this desaster struck and ya' all should keep that in mind. And by the way, did any of you southern/midwestern morons vote for Obama? No, despite Bush running this country into a ditch for eight straight years with his failed and misguided economic policies and murdering 4000 US troops over lies about non existent WMD's in Iraq, you southern/midwestern racists still voted republican. And you people tore into the president when his administration passed healthcare for the American people but I find it ironic that you same people are now crying out for medical treatment and economic aid. So where are all the multi-millionaire republican senators and house reps who ya'all voted for? I'm yet to see John Boehner or Eric Cantor or Mitch McConnel or John Cornyn and the likes in your stricken home state bring aid and comfort to the grief stricken. But you people want to accuse the president of not being in your home state while he is abroad fulfilling his global initiative.How pathetacic. Maybe next time around, you people would set your racism and bigotry aside and vote Obama/Biden in 2012 because they are for Americans of all race, religion and creed. Not the GOP. Nevertheless, my prayers are with you all and I wish you people all the best.

    May 27, 2011 at 8:06 am | Report abuse |
    • Chrissy

      Again, can everyone stop grouping all midwesterners/ southerners together as uneducated? I did not vote republican, nor dd most of the people I know, but that's not even the point. This article is about the disaster. Take your judgemental opinions elsewhere.

      May 27, 2011 at 10:16 am | Report abuse |
    • Col. Bat Guano

      You feel better now? Social profiling much? Discriminatory dill weed. Could you post back and explain why you're not any smarter than you are?

      May 27, 2011 at 10:18 am | Report abuse |
    • King Ceasar

      Joe, now is not the time or the place to vent your prejudices.

      May 27, 2011 at 10:25 am | Report abuse |
    • Lady B

      I agree with what you said about Obama not being able to get to Missouri due to prior engagements. However, I don't agree with you calling Southern/Mid-westerners morons or the like. I live in Oklahoma and I not only voted for Obama in the past election but I plan on voting for him again. I think you really need to talk a good look at yourself before you start stereotyping. Oh, and you might want to proof read your work before submitting it next time. Just a suggestion.

      May 27, 2011 at 11:20 am | Report abuse |
    • Lady B

      I agree with what you said about Obama not being able to get to Missouri due to prior engagements. However, I don't agree with you calling Southern/Mid-westerners morons or the like. I live in Oklahoma and I not only voted for Obama in the past election but I plan on voting for him again. I think you really need to take a good look at yourself before you start stereotyping. Oh, and you might want to proof read your work before submitting it next time. Just a suggestion.

      May 27, 2011 at 11:21 am | Report abuse |
  11. Ceaser

    JC, I'm assuming you live in a bubble, because it really sounds like it. You should get out more and learn about real life and america. You have no idea how rare tornadoes that cause damage actually are. This doesnt happen all the time and there are not "twisters" falling out of the sky at random. The recent storms were freaks of nature. You have no concept of how wide the cyclone was and how quick it came. I'd keep those snarky little diatribes to myself, if I was you. It's not cool, and really just makes you sound very uninformed.

    May 27, 2011 at 9:58 am | Report abuse |
  12. Scottihs Mama

    Govenor Jay Nixon has been on site and Claire McCaskill has been on site. ST. Louis has sent officers to help the tiried officers of Joplin Missouri and the States people are sending too much stuff and were told not to send any more items because the banks are full of clothes and items for personal use. Medical, redcross and people who help with tramatized Joplin residents have been sent.
    I think after the president comes on Sunday and tells of the needs of the people and what we should do as a state we can get to taking care of our own.
    I want to personally help and get involved, but at this time do not want to hinder the relief aide or cause more problems by being there at this time.
    I will contact every church and organization to help, once the needs are known.(habitate for humanity would be great)
    I am an organizer.
    As for as rebuilding, the people of Joplin would be served well to rebuild with underground electricity, it eliminates poles being thrown around and they can now start from scratch. They are overwelmed and devistated as a people and need everyones support.
    I do not pretend to be the sharpest tool in the shed, just to have a heart. My thoughts are with these fellow Missourians and for many years to come.
    Let them recover their families and dead. Let them get over the shock and bury their dead. Then we can try to help them heal.
    To the officials of the state, guide us to what we need to do, we will be there.

    May 27, 2011 at 11:13 am | Report abuse |
  13. kalene

    i feel so sorry for this poor woman looking for her son . my heart just goes out to her this whole withholding the bodies is enough to cause ongoing trauma to people . people please dont argue when there is so much pain here .
    its about time some of the mcdonalds stores close after all cutting all the trees down is what causes the insane weather so it makes sense their own stores are taken. shut all the stores noone needs the junk food ..

    May 28, 2011 at 7:40 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Observer1290

    May 30, 2011 at 1:45 pm | Report abuse |
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