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FEMA assesses rental availability in Joplin

May 31, 2011 at 8:02 AM   |   Comments

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JOPLIN, Mo., May 31 (UPI) -- Federal officials are assessing the availability of rental housing for people displaced by the devastating EF5 tornado in Joplin, Mo., an official said.

If the Federal Emergency Management Agency can't find enough existing housing within a 50-mile radius of the hard-hit city, federal officials said they'd consider bringing in trailers, The Joplin Globe reported Tuesday.

Joplin City Manager Mark Rohr said officials were still working to determine how many people were displaced by the May 22 tornado. Officials said an estimated 8,000 residential units were destroyed based on satellite imagery. City business leaders estimate that more than 300 businesses were affected.

Officials said 142 people were confirmed killed by the tornado.

Rohr said the tornado's path across Joplin was about 6.5 miles long. However, National Weather Service meteorologist Andy Boxell in Springfield said preliminary estimates indicated the tornado's total path was 13.8 miles long.

During a news conference Monday, Andrea Spillars, deputy director of the Missouri Department of Public Safety, said the specially established morgue has 146 sets of human remains.

As of Monday morning, the list of missing people was 29, including three individuals whose families reported them as deceased, officials said.

Spillars said the department was working around the clock to identify the dead and notify relatives.

Rohr said a fifth sweep of the debris field was being conducted and a sixth and final sweep would occur as soon as the fifth sweep is finished, the Globe said.

Rohr said officials still hope someone would be rescued.

"With each passing day, we face diminishing prospects," he said, "but we are still hoping for a miracle in the city of Joplin."

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