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.

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Filed under: Joplin • Missouri • Oklahoma • Tornadoes • Weather
soundoff (200 Responses)
  1. anonymous

    Cnn does a good job of taking care of people in situations like this.

    May 26, 2011 at 11:33 am | Report abuse |
    • bam

      except that cnn is going way to far questioning the morgue workers speediness who are dealing with mangles bodies.
      You can't have lines of people walking through a morgue trying to id body parts. Do you know what your family members arm looks like? CAPISCE? chill out and stop trying to find fault in these workers trying to keep this gruesome task calm

      May 26, 2011 at 10:41 pm | Report abuse |
  2. awful

    The only thing I can imagine that worse for those in Joplin than having their loved one killed, is to still not be able to find out where they are, how sad.

    May 26, 2011 at 11:59 am | Report abuse |
  3. Carlos

    Another website said 1500 were unaccounted for

    May 26, 2011 at 11:59 am | Report abuse |
    • Davis

      I saw that number a day or two ago. Doesn't mean that there is still 1500 people missing right now.....people turn up.

      May 26, 2011 at 12:46 pm | Report abuse |
  4. cynarra

    I'm glad more resources r becoming availble I can not find 2 relatives all because I didn't have a actual address.

    May 26, 2011 at 11:59 am | Report abuse |
  5. DMT

    Agreed. CNN is wonderful about this.

    May 26, 2011 at 12:01 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Denny

    Forget CNN being wonderful about anything. They have a job to do, and that job contains a script, and that script is to report the news! There were 1,500 people unaccounted for, as Headline News, among other organizations have reported. They are trying to keep the number levels down, as some people who were unaccounted for, had been found alive. Some people have left town, and others might not have people looking for them.

    May 26, 2011 at 12:16 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Carla

    I'm from this area. I work in Joplin every day and have been amazed at the way emergency agencies and city officials and volunteers have come together to deal with this disaster. There is no Tornados for Dummies Book that I'm aware of to help us deal with a disater of this magnitude and we are doing the very best that we can. Believe me there is enough bad in this with all of the loss of life and property without starting a blame game in how we handle things. If you think you can do better come and help. Don't stand in front of a camera report that we aren't handling it the correct way. Anderson Cooper is a moron who is looking for scandal in every situation. Report on the good that thousands of volunteers are doing here. This is no time for your negative sensationalism. I watch CNN all the time and I'm ashamed that all you can find to report on is that we are not doing this the way you think we should. Shame on you.

    May 26, 2011 at 12:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • jennifer

      im so sorry for all of u in joplin, no one should have to go through this, i have to say as much as im brought to tears from all of the damage and lives thathave and are lost im also amazed at how strong u all are. within min of the tornado going through town everybody was out helping each other and cleaning up. i live in holton ks and we here have been very lucky. i think u all are doing an amazing job.

      May 26, 2011 at 2:41 pm | Report abuse |


    May 26, 2011 at 12:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • TT

      FEMA was on the ground in Joplin less than 5 hours after the tornado struck. Before most of you even knew it about the tornado FEMA was delivering the first of emergency funds and Satellite Phones. I can tell you FEMA swarmed the area after the twister. By the next morning, 12 hours after disaster a mobile command centers was in place. Within 24 hours they had several rail cars full of emergency supplies outside of town. When america is hit with disaster Americans don't care whose GOP or democrat, they are Americans first. Eric Cantor is using one of the worst tornados in history for political reasons. This is how the GOP in washington feels about the american people. The GOP is critical of anything the other guy does. In this case even if it's good. The truth is FEMA and Obama aren't holding up anything. I can tell you because I'm there. And on the ground the locals and state have nothing but praise for Obama and FEMA

      May 26, 2011 at 1:12 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Steve

    The grief and anger are understandable, but four days is not a long time in an emergency of this scale. The authorities are acting responsibly. It would have been far worse to prematurely release a list filled with errors.

    May 26, 2011 at 12:27 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Cecilie

    Ive been following this on the news and I wish I could help more than just donating. Im not American, Im Norwegian and its been all over the news here too. The family who lost theire 5 year old and had a toddler ripped out of theire hands are going to be in my thoughts for a long time. I hope they find the child soon and Im so sorry for their loss.

    May 26, 2011 at 12:29 pm | Report abuse |
  11. justin bieber

    PLZ FOLLOW @Machahir123 on Twitter for latest on this plz USA

    May 26, 2011 at 12:32 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Kat

    I have family missing in joplin by the last name of beard, my cousins are missing, my entire family from all over the United states are desperately looking now!!!! i certainitly wish anyone who is missing a family member from the depths of my heart all the luck on locating loved ones & my sympathy for the loved ones that they have lost, im truely saddened by this horrofic disaster & loss of lives, i am especially saddened by the losses of the children im reading about! My heart is with you all, Kat UK.

    May 26, 2011 at 12:38 pm | Report abuse |
  13. GulfCoast

    It sounds to me like Fed, State, & locals are all working together. It's great to see everybody come together and forget silly crap like politics. However, if Eric Cantor makes one more ignorant crack about holding up emergency funding for Joplin somebody needs to slap him by side his perfectly coffered head. I'd suggest Claire McCaskill & Roy Blunt both take a swing at the maggot.

    May 26, 2011 at 12:39 pm | Report abuse |
  14. T-man

    Where is Obama?

    May 26, 2011 at 12:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • Lola

      Have you not been listening to the news? He is currently in London and stated he will visit the Joplin upon his return.

      May 26, 2011 at 12:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • Davis

      He has done a lot with this situation so far. People have this notion that if the president is somewhere else that he quits doing his job. What could he have done by being there during the last few days? He would have hindered the recovery efforts because security would have gotten in the way. Could you imagine how busy that place probably is? It was a madhouse in Parkersburg IA when that EF5 went thru in '08 and that was a town of under 2000. How it worked out and allowing people get Joplin as under control as they can before he comes is probably a good thing.

      May 26, 2011 at 1:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • ANS-222

      He drinking beer and worrying about Egypt right now, that is more important than American citizens. Could you imagine if this was a conservative president, the liberal media would be all over this, but their Messiah Obama can do no wrong.

      May 26, 2011 at 1:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • MikeB

      It's really cheap of you to try and turn this tragedy into something political.

      May 26, 2011 at 1:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • jschool

      Excuse me, I thought you people resented government interfering in your lives. You disparage people who need help. So why do you want the President? And by the way, the President is working, not vacationing.

      May 26, 2011 at 1:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • Davis

      ANS-222: Anyone with a brain knows that every American president cares about the American people no matter how the media spins it. I would defend any president that is doing what Obama is doing right now in regard to the situation in Joplin. Its being handled appropriately. In addition, the midwest is no stranger to these types of disasters and that is very clear in how the state of Missouri and its neighbors are responding as well.

      May 26, 2011 at 1:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • Smuba

      This is the same bum rap Bush got after Katrina. People need to stop expecting the President to put on a red cape and wave a magic wand everytime something bad happens.

      May 26, 2011 at 2:17 pm | Report abuse |
  15. saddened

    I'm truly heartbroken to read about those babies! I'm praying for our entire country as we're battling weather issues all over! May God continue to bless everyone that made it out alive!

    May 26, 2011 at 12:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dave

      Hey ebonyqueen. Shut up.

      May 26, 2011 at 2:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tom Penders


      Are you coo coo for coco puffs?

      May 26, 2011 at 2:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • GD

      @ ebonyquees, Please let GOD do his wrath and change things in the next 10 minutes and strike you down for being racist... Black people died in this disaster as well dumb a$$. You have issues and need some serious counseling. I believe your family are the ones making racism worse in our society with your idiotic ideas and cries of justice...

      May 26, 2011 at 2:17 pm | Report abuse |
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