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. Jennie

    Think what T-Man is saying Lola is that your a bunch of Bush Bashing Hypocrites. And I agrree with him

    May 26, 2011 at 1:05 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Kathy

    The commitment and dedication of the volunteers in Joplin is not being questioned. What is being questioned is whether the paid officials are even attempting to provide the same level of service to the families still searching for victims. We are still searching for my mother-in-law and finding no officials in charge who have any answers. Each day they have us fill out another form and then they us with provide additional excuses for why the process continues to drag on. The Jasper County Sheriff, Archie Dunn, who is in charge of the morgue stated just this morning that 12 of the 125 bodies in the morgue have been process thus far. Over 72 hours after the first bodies were received and only 12 have been processed. At that rate, it will take an additional 678 hours (28 days) to complete the identification. Does anyone really believe that 28 days is an acceptable time to wait for an answer? We have created a list of shelters, hospitals, nursing homes and individuals that we have contacted for help during the course of our search. Will the officials who are supposed to be helping and searching as well, do the same? There must be some accountability and transparency for the families of the victims. Not only did the tornado create victims, but the families are now being victimized again by the very government that is supposed to be serving and protecting them.

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

      I agree. The familes should not be kept waiting. They had glimmers of hope that their loved ones were alive some how some way. Then to find out they are not alive and they have the body in a morgue has to be devestating. THEN they need to find out they have to fill out form after form or wait until the medical examiner idenditifies the body!!!

      How agonizing, There should not be an application to identifiy their loved ones, this is cruel to do that to a person. People want closure, they want to give their loved ones a funeral and have closure so they can try to rebuild their lives after everything has been lost.

      The one thing this country is famous for it seems it paper work............there is a form for almost everything, even a form to fill out to identofy your loved one after a fiasco like this, the Red tape need to be removed and make things easier for the familes NOT harder. Yes paper trails are needed, but it seems like higher power political ppl have fewwr paper trails than us regualr folks............

      I just feel sad for the familes who have to deal with this.

      May 26, 2011 at 1:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • David55

      You think the government is trying to lead you on? Maybe they have alot on their plate right now from taking care of the injured, finding bodies, searching houses, etc. etc. etc. I feel for you, but you seem to imply the government is intentionally trying to inconvenience you, when in fact i think they are focussing on the more important issues of keeping the living alive, rather than finding the already dead.

      May 26, 2011 at 1:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • Lisa

      Kathy, you and all those affected by the storms are in my thoughts. I know it's small comparied to what you are facing, but our family has all donated blood and given to the Red Cross. From what I've heard on other news sources several of those lost will have to be IDed by DNA and that does take several days. Please remember as much as you are hurting those you are speaking with may be dealing with the same hurt in their own life as well. Orginizations are stretched thin at a time like this, you don't know if the agency you are dealing is understaffed because of their own losses... This is said with kindest regards for your situation, I have lost a child - but not under these conditions - there is nothing harder than losing a loved one and not having answers right away.

      May 26, 2011 at 1:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dave

      While I would be frustrated I would understand that they need to make sure they are identifying the bodies in the morgue correctly and that they are much busier than usual at this point in time. Keep hope Kathy.

      May 26, 2011 at 2:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • Rick

      Kathy, God Bless you and I truly hope you find your loved one. I posted this earlier and was called a troll for it, not sure why as it is the truth. I just don't understand how is it that our country buried Osama Bin Laden, the countries most hated terrorist, in 24 hours out of respect for his religious beliefs but the government is not allowing those families to see and identify their family members for 2 weeks as was reported by Anderson Cooper and John King last night? What is wrong with this picture. This should outrage everyone in this country! This needs to be corrected. I thought maybe things would work out for this disaster, but evidently not, bureaucracy at its finest again. Hopefully the Governor will step in and let the families have access to the morg. While not something that anyone would want to do, it has to be done to identify these loved one. Out thoughts and prayers are with you.

      May 26, 2011 at 2:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • nutmeg2

      How many coroners are there in the county. Processing a body isn't a quick process. Unless you prefer they don't thoroughly do their jobs? Do understand the effort involved in identifiying people? Dentist records needed from dentist offices that may be gone. While I understand it's frustrating, this is a huge effort and not a fast one. I'm sorry for your worry, but people need to be understanding of real time logistics.

      May 26, 2011 at 2:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • nutmeg2

      @Rick. You are comparing apples to oranges. We spent nearly 10 years and billions of dollars on Osama. We all know who he was and what he looked liked. At 5 in the evening the people of Joplin weren't necessarily at home. It is NOT an easy process to figure out who has passed and who exactly they are, and the last thing the government wants is to declare someone dead who isn't or screw something else up in their process.

      May 26, 2011 at 2:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • Rick

      @nutmeg You are missing my point. It is that they are not even letting people into the morgue to possibly identify the bodies. The family interviewed last night knows their son is there and they will not let them in to positively id him. That is wrong. There are many other families there that should be allowed to view the bodies to see if they can identify them. Then at that point they, the coroner, can confirm the body. But at minimum the families should be allowed to enter the morgue and view the bodies. That is my point.

      May 26, 2011 at 2:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • nutmeg2

      @Rick. Ok, I can concede that. However, is it possible they still have reasons for not being able to let people in? Maybe there isn't much to identify him with. I had a friend die who could only be identified by his wedding ring. Sounds horrible, but true. Not to mention other issues they may be dealing with. I don't know. Rock and a hard place is my guess. My heart goes out to those with missing loved ones.

      May 26, 2011 at 2:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sam

      @nutmeg2- I agree with you 100%. Yeah, it sucks that they can't go in but this isn't like sorting through lost luggage. Imagine the outrage if just one body was misidentified and buried as someone else? And to let people in to look at the bodies? Possibly take pictures of them cell phones to be circulated on the web? People seem to think that these bodies are like what you would see in a 70s wild west movie. Not the case, they will be mangled, they will be broken, in some cases they will not even look like a body and they will be hard to identify. These storms lift semis with ease.

      It is important the process is done correctly and as it is frustrating it will all be sorted out in the end. The WORST that can happen is they learn from the experience and update policies and procedures in place to make the process take less time in the future should it happen again.

      As far as Rick compare this to the identification of Osama is ridiculous and insulting. Common sense Rick....common sense.

      May 26, 2011 at 3:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • Len

      The problem is that the authorities just can't let a family go in an "pick out their missing loved one". Many of the bodies in the morgue are unidentifiable and some bodies found are just parts. It will take forensics to be positive on the identification. It just takes time.

      May 26, 2011 at 4:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • Rick

      @Sam, my point did not have anything to do with identifing osama, it had to do with respect, they should show these people the respect we showed his religion, so it is about respect of people's religious beliefs, respect of the dead, and respect for the rights of the family. Perhaps if you heard what the family who was interviewed last night was going through or if you read what Kathy wrote you may understand. I think the unsupported fear and over political correctness of the remote possibility of someone taking a picture with a phone is far outweighed by the need and necessity to allow the families to view the bodies of their loved ones, thus aiding and expediting their identification. Common sense Sam, common sense.

      May 26, 2011 at 4:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • Rick

      This was my point. If you watch this and still disagree, well than you'll never understand.

      May 26, 2011 at 4:51 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Republican

    Meanwhile we will donate several hundred million more dollars to other countries as opposed to helping our own US Citizens who are in need(specifically now in Joplin,MO). If I weren't afraid of losing my job to someone over in India or Asia I would travel up there and help with search and rescue.

    May 26, 2011 at 1:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mack

      Agreed. It's time we stopped investing in Arab appeasement. Face it. It's protection money. We're paying them for the promise that terrorists won't threaten us and that the Saudis or the UAE won't cut off the oil . Time to re-invest in American virtue and freedom.

      May 26, 2011 at 1:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • nutmeg2

      An F5 can suck a house right off it's foundation and the people hiding in it's basement. Educate yourself first.

      May 26, 2011 at 2:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • nutmeg2

      Sorry, wrong post, this was meant for Jim .

      May 26, 2011 at 2:34 pm | Report abuse |
  4. jim

    Why were people out in that storm anyway? An optometrist taking a 5 year old for ice cream? And he is supposed to be educated? How stupid can one be? Sirens going off and people admitting they ignored them. Humans are such morons. Always think they know better, until they get slapped upsidebthe head

    May 26, 2011 at 1:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • Republican

      Exactly, great point Jim.

      May 26, 2011 at 1:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • Davis

      Yes. Such insight in pointing out that people sometimes make the wrong decisions (rolls eyes)

      May 26, 2011 at 1:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sarah

      To be fair, in our area, the sirens go off every time lightning flashes anymore. I got a weather radio so I can ignore the idiotic knee jerk sirens.

      May 26, 2011 at 1:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • Josh

      Clearly you do not live in the midwest... For example here in rolla mo the sirens were going off ALL day yesterday but I never even saw a tornado. Hell the sirens were going off before there were clouds or wind. It is hard to hide all day when this kind of thing happens every other day usually with no tornado ever hitting. This storm for example had sirens going off for 5 days straight.

      May 26, 2011 at 1:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • Nc

      Wrong, Jim. OBVIOUSLY, you do not live in the area (or any where tornadoes are).

      A tornado, in no way, is on a straight line. A tornado can rise and fall, grow and dissipate, turn/turn back upon itself, etc., etc., etc. It is NOT like a hurricane.

      This particular tornado was extremely small (and relatively NOT dangerous) 7 minutes before it turned into the killing monster.

      For those of you with these totally idiotic comments – you should be ashamed. AND please educate yourself before you make a total fool of yourselves again.

      May 26, 2011 at 1:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • GD

      Jim I live in Joplin and what your saying does not account for the majority of the people that are dead or missing. I personally went down there in the first 10 minutes after the storm passed and the people that heard the sirens and went into their bathrooms and other rooms to attempt to escape injury were carried off when their houses were tore apart and turned into kindling... Lets take this into perspective please maybe a couple people were out being stupid however the MAJORITY of these people were taking shelter in their homes however their homes were totally flattened....

      May 26, 2011 at 2:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tom Penders

      Jim and Republican-

      You both prove your ignorance with your comments. You obviously don't live in these areas.

      That's like me calling all the people who die of heat stroke during a hot summer in NYC a bunch of idiots for not finding AC. It's not always that simple.

      Glad you two idiots have it all figured out though.

      May 26, 2011 at 2:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • sagan

      looks like many learned a lot of lessons the hard way .. There will be many regrets by those who survived and those who lost loved ones... Bashing them and criticizing them from the sidelines will not help the situation.

      We just need to support them and help them recover.

      There are millions of what ifs we can imagine.. If they had taken cover, had been more watchful of the weather warnings, had had seat belts on, had an emergency plan, had done this or that instead.. These are all wishful thinking they will all have to deal with for the rest of their lives.. we do not need to do it for them and make them feel any worst as they are in shock to deal with it now.

      We all need to be aware we can be in a dangerous situation as a moments notice.. Awareness of our surroundings is vital for survival. Do not depend on sirens to alert you to danger.. by then it may be too late to protect yourself.

      May 26, 2011 at 5:05 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Cathy J

    You forgot to list as missing...Obama!

    May 26, 2011 at 1:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • Davis

      What a hack joke.

      May 26, 2011 at 1:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • 2tired2care

      We'll aren't you just the funniest white trash, bible banging, gun loving, dumb as a rock hoe.

      May 26, 2011 at 1:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tom Penders


      May 26, 2011 at 2:12 pm | Report abuse |
  6. April

    SO WHAT TASK force is out there now? Are their LIVE FIND dogs out there??? This happened on Sunday they should have focused search with LIVE FIND dogs the entire first week then switched to Cadaver dogs.
    Who is out there??? There are people probably trapped and need help.

    May 26, 2011 at 1:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • Nc

      Uhhh, April –I know for a fact that three search/rescue dog teams from Oklahoma are up there. Besides the fact, that this tornado was THIS week....not last week.

      When bashing people, please get facts straight.

      May 26, 2011 at 1:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • PayAttention

      check your facts. The Search and Rescue Team from Osage Beach deployed first thing Monday morning.

      May 26, 2011 at 8:40 pm | Report abuse |
  7. DM

    I like to know why FEMA isn't helping more. Afterall there was a National Level Exercise from May 16th-20th. Weren't they preparing for this? Hate to say this but i think everyone needs to start looking at weather modification. It's all over youtube. Look up Dutchsinse & Metalsays, they both have interesting videos.

    May 26, 2011 at 1:34 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Christy

    Not only was FEMA there before it hit..the LDS Church also had emergency supplies and were on there way with cargo planes full of supplies with food water clothing and heygiene supplies. My heart goes out to those families who have lost everything and then to also loose a family member...

    May 26, 2011 at 1:34 pm | Report abuse |
  9. ken

    What is really shocking is that 4 days aftert the disaster authorities are still busy making hollow promises of help. What should really be happening right now is authorities telling people that everyone has been accounted for. They should have deployed the national guard within 10 minutes of initial reports of the disaster. But we have no resources to help the people of America because all of our resources are being used to rob and destroy the world. So while Obama is busy having fun and making a fool of himself, Americans at home are losing their lives buried under the debris. And the media is busy airing sensational news reports and covering up the failures. Its really sad.......

    May 26, 2011 at 1:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • Nc

      National guard were deployed immediately–

      Does anybody follow any news?? Or just sit at their computers, bashing things that they know nothing about????....

      May 26, 2011 at 1:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dave

      Obama is handling this just fine.

      May 26, 2011 at 2:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • nutmeg2

      Nc, some people obviously follow just the sensationalism and don't bother with facts. Hard to have an intelligent conversation with people like that. I understand the frustration from those looking for loved ones, however, the bashing on how the volunteers and people working on no sleep is ridiculous. Disasters are inherently confusing. The people of Joplin seem to be rising to the occasion.

      May 26, 2011 at 2:30 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Ken

    Not once have I seen anything on yahoo, or google about relief aid and a donation toll free number. it really burns me up that when things like this happen in other countries, we immediately form relief groups to help them out. WHAT ABOUT US!!!!!! who's helping us?

    May 26, 2011 at 1:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sarah

      Feel free at any time to text REDCROSS to 90999 for a quick $10 donation. Or go to and donate there. Red Cross is already on the ground in Joplin. Just because the media doesn't plaster everything all over their front page doesn't mean it's not happening.

      May 26, 2011 at 1:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dave

      Sarah post a link so we know that number is legit. Just because some random person writes that on a message board doesn't mean its legit.

      May 26, 2011 at 2:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • rhonda is the link to the red cross, Dave. And, it is in Sarah's post. And, if you go to their website, and actually look at it, instead of relying on some random stranger, and then bashing their attempt to be helpful, you will see that the number and instructions she posted (text REDCROSS to 90999) is specifically listed as a way to donate when you click on the link that says "DONATE"

      May 26, 2011 at 4:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dave

      Well her attempt to be helpful wasn't as helpful as it should have been. If you tell people what number to text to donate $$$ you post a link and not just some random number. Someone not so tech savvy could take her for what she wrote and she could have messed up the number or she could be a scam. This day and age I will "bash" someone for not knowing how to post links.

      May 26, 2011 at 4:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dave

      FYI- I know she posted a link.

      May 26, 2011 at 4:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • Louis

      Dave you are weird.

      May 26, 2011 at 4:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dave

      I know.....I will quit now. Rhonda just took me way to seriously so I wanted to start a fight. Bored man. Keep up the good work Sarah!

      May 26, 2011 at 4:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • Louis

      Always picking fights. You crack me up.

      May 26, 2011 at 4:26 pm | Report abuse |
  11. marian b

    Where's the damn army? Oh ya, there off wasting valuable tax dollars in foreing countries. Their own land and people should be job number one. That debris would have been cleared now, and the missing located, if there had been sufficient troops on hand. Piorities are completely screwed up

    May 26, 2011 at 1:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • Nc

      uhhhh-Where to begin?

      The Army is involved with things (mild little ones like protecting the U.S). The NATIONAL GUARD (the military group for problems involving civilians) is already there.... .

      May 26, 2011 at 2:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • nutmeg2

      Debris cleared.? Seriously? That will take months of of heavy equipment working 7 days a week. Right now they are going through it with a fine tooth comb so they don't kill any survivors caught in the rubble.

      May 26, 2011 at 2:32 pm | Report abuse |
  12. kat

    @MikeB. I agree with you. To bring politics into this is really disgusting. There is something wrong on a very basic level with those that do. No compassion or empathy is a terrible thing to see or read. My prayers are with those affected by that strorm as well as any others. We spent most of night in interior of hospital while working then in basement of my home last night. Have read hurricanes will be bad this year as well. May people be safe during these events.

    May 26, 2011 at 1:44 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Glades2

    It's very important to realize that hopefully many of these people fled after the tornado and are with family members – I was on a similar list in 1992, following Hurricane Andrew, because the hospital I worked for at the time did not receive the message I left 1 or 2 days after the hurricane, telling them I was safe. Because I was a staff relief employee, I was not on a fixed schedule and because of that I did not call them back for 2 or 3 weeks while I lived at my sister's house, 60 miles away. When I did call the staffing office they were both glad and mad to hear from me – glad because I hadn't been killed, but upset that they never received my message – they told me that they were convinced I'd been killed, so, proof that the missing list (there were 80 employees on that list in 1992) are hopefully only because of misinformation or messages never received – it's been a heartbreaking week for many and we thank God for the break in the weather that is coming in the days ahead...

    May 26, 2011 at 2:02 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Anne

    I believe Mark Lindquist was found yesterday in the hospital, yet he is still on the missing list?

    May 26, 2011 at 2:08 pm | Report abuse |
  15. MaraC

    A tornado is not racist.

    May 26, 2011 at 2:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • ygbfsm

      @Louis, you are very deperate to attempt to insert human and animal characteristics into phenomenons of nature. Drastic and dramatic would describe your feeble ploys even better... so drastic you 'piggyback' enormous human tragedy in order to attempt to push your own selfish politics and apparent animalistic characteristics. Grow up in your lifetime!

      May 26, 2011 at 2:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • Louis

      @ygbfsm- Just because you didn't find it funny doesn't mean someone else wouldn't. Therefore, I don't care what your opinion on my observational racial humor is.

      May 26, 2011 at 2:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • Allison

      @Louis, I found it very funny.

      May 26, 2011 at 2:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tom Penders

      I thought it was funny too.

      You da man, Louis!

      May 26, 2011 at 3:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • Louis

      Thanks! You guys rule 🙂

      May 26, 2011 at 3:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • Burbank

      We just had a silver colored tornado in CA yesterday because the sun was shining through it and it was over rice paddies with lots of water in them. Does that mean it was coming after seniors?

      May 26, 2011 at 3:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • Louis

      @Burbank- It could have been if you want it to!

      May 26, 2011 at 4:20 pm | Report abuse |
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