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. Teri

    They have 2 people listed twice on there, so they can drop that number to 230. Did nobody double check this? A 3rd person may also be double listed.

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

      The list the morgue is using is different Teri, they just had the man on CNN explaining this, as for some of the other problems, look what it did to the trees, stripping bark off, unpleasent to say the least of what the bodies look like, that is why the first ID that took place turned out it wasn't who the people thought it was. So now they are doing dental records and such to make sure the persons get the right body to bury, it sounds horrible and is, but that is the only way they can be indentified. I have friends and family there in Joplin, they have lost alot, they luckily are alive, but there are not withholding info on peoples loved ones to be mean, this isn't like Haiti as Cooper spoke, these people had debris at over 200mph shredding them, many are beyond reconisition

      May 26, 2011 at 2:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • Teri

      I realize ID'ing may be difficult, but one kid is listed with his mom's last name and again with his dad's last name because they are divorced. He's simply been listed twice. They have, since my post, dropped the count to 230.

      May 26, 2011 at 3:02 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Corbin R. Fields

    Help those in need of housing with http://help.sparkrelief.org/
    We are empowering communities to help with housing relief. Please help the people in Joplin find a home!

    May 26, 2011 at 2:16 pm | Report abuse |
  3. jmc

    I dont think politics belong in this conversation this was a natural disaster god bless everyone that affected by these devastating storms

    May 26, 2011 at 2:17 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Wally B'akbar

    Insha'Allah

    May 26, 2011 at 2:18 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Richard

    They are asking people who might be listed as missing to call a 417 area code number. Theses people may not have a penny to their name. Why not a toll free 800 number?

    May 26, 2011 at 2:22 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Lisa Davis

    Just fix the list, don't beat up the list makers.

    May 26, 2011 at 2:36 pm | Report abuse |
  7. TOYCAR

    I noticed that Lantz Hare is not on this list but rather a Casey Hare. Does anyone know if Lantz has been located?
    As for those of you who are using this post as a political ventilator I hope when you suffer like these people have suffered someone will have more common sense and show more compassion to you. You are acting like COMPLETE JERKS!

    May 26, 2011 at 2:37 pm | Report abuse |
  8. jak

    I know how frustrating it must be for people looking for loved ones. Please know how much those responsible for taking care of such matters are just as frustrated. I would think that one factor would be to make sure it is safe for the searches to completed. Also, it these hectic times, I am not surprised there may duplicated names on the list..More important to get the list out!!

    May 26, 2011 at 2:38 pm | Report abuse |
  9. anonymous

    so what happens to this woman on the steps now? does anyone help her? how long does it take for insurance to pay up in tornadoes like this? a lot of older people have to decide between food and insurance (my mom just asked me a week ago if she should pay taxes or insurance). and if you wanted to help, how could you even do it. are these people tied up in paperwork for 6 months? that will be approaching winter. hard to get construction done in the winter.

    May 26, 2011 at 2:39 pm | Report abuse |
  10. aj

    I m a missoruian, not just Joplin but Sedila, Mo. is also damaged along with Ark. and Okla. and pls send clothes, blankets, non-ridge foods, bottled waters to those damaged cities and dontate some $$$. Thank u all.

    May 26, 2011 at 3:01 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Derek

    Everytime there is an earthquake in CA some nut from the midwest makes comments like we all deserve it for various reasons this just shows disasters can happen anywhere and Jesus ain't gonna help you.

    I'm surprised that so many don't have basement shelters for this type of storm. I thought most people that lived in these areas had undergound shelters for tornados? It is sad to not know what happened to a loved one.

    May 26, 2011 at 3:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • Momof3

      Derek, I am sorry about the ignorant people who think CA residents deserve earthquakes. Being from the midwest and having lived with the threat of tornados my whole life I am sorry for their stupidity. You choose to live where you want and nature can strike anywhere.
      Also, a lot of our buildings here in the midwest were put up quickly in the 50's and 60's. These homes were for the blue collar workers who just needed a home. A lot of them are on slabs with no basements (it was cheaper). We do have a lot of homes with basements (I won't live in a home with out one) but in storms such as these you do run the risk of being sucked out of the basment due to wind speeds/pressure and such. There was no getting away from this storm in a basement. It was just too powerful.

      May 26, 2011 at 3:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • jak

      In a lot of areas of Missouri, the soil does not allow for basements, and storm shelters are very expensive..a city with median income of 30,000 is not going to have the kind of money to allow for shelters.

      May 26, 2011 at 10:39 pm | Report abuse |
  12. PJ

    CNN I PERSONALLY think u guys are magnificent; because if it wasn't for u all help the ppl would be more devastating. Keep up the good work love u guys

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

      I think it would be nice of CNN to give us a story about the people who have been helped, not always just the negative aspect!!

      May 27, 2011 at 2:27 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Roland

    We should help those poor people who were affected by this storm calamity.

    May 26, 2011 at 3:07 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Louis

    Yeah.....

    May 26, 2011 at 3:07 pm | Report abuse |
  15. truth

    when natural things like this happen and there are people trapped and dying people should be allowed to volunteer to help dig people out. all the BS that is asked of us is to send money. always send money. no we need to get people here to dig others out who are trapped.

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