By JOE MUELLER
THE CENTER SQUARE STAFF REPORTER
(The Center Square) — Missouri Gov. Mike Parson on Thursday requested the Federal Emergency Management Agency begin work with state and local leaders in Dunklin, Pemiscot and Reynolds Counties to provide assistance in recovering from last week’s tornadoes.
The National Weather Service confirmed at least six tornadoes touched down in parts of Montgomery, Stone, Webster, Wright, Reynolds and St. Charles Counties. The storms killed two people who were in their homes, an 84-year-old woman in St. Charles County and a 9-year-old girl in Pemiscot County. Six employees at an Amazon distribution center in Edwardsville, Ill., about 30 miles northeast of St. Louis, were killed when a tornado struck the facility.
The storms damaged electric power systems. Dunklin and Pemiscot Counties had more than 20 large electricity transmission towers and lines destroyed that deliver power between New Madrid and Dell, Ark. Electric cooperatives and utility crews rerouted electricity from other sources and areas until repairs can be completed. More than 30,000 homes and businesses were without electricity during the storms and afterward.
Teams composed of local emergency management representatives from the State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA) and FEMA will work together to assess and document storm damage. The completion of preliminary damage assessments by the teams is required before requesting President Joe Biden declare a federal Major Disaster, allowing subsequent assistance. Pres. Biden visited Mayfield, Ky., on Wednesday where tornadoes killed more than 70 people and leveled most of the town.
National Weather Service teams are continuing to collect and survey damage in southeast Missouri. As more information is compiled, additional assessments may be conducted.
“SEMA’s regional coordinators have helped local emergency managers with documenting extensive damage to public infrastructure, homes, businesses, electric power delivery systems, and emergency response costs in the impacted communities,” Gov. Parson said in a statement. “Initial damage reports show a clear need for a formal review by FEMA as part of the federal disaster declaration process.”
SEMA is coordinating disaster assistance centers today and Saturday in St. Charles and Pemiscot Counties with volunteer and faith-based partners. Those affected by the storms can receive help with food, insurance information, emergency financial and legal assistance.