There are at least 116 deaths related to the tornado that ripped through Joplin Sunday night, and search teams on Monday rescued and additional seven people who were buried in debris.

There are at least 116 deaths related to the tornado that ripped through Joplin Sunday night, and search teams on Monday rescued and additional seven people who were buried in debris.


Joplin City Manager R. Mark Rohr confirmed the deaths at a press conference with Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon and other officials Monday afternoon at the city’s National Guard armory. The tornado is the single deadliest in the United States since 1899, when a tornado in Flint, Mich., killed 117 people, and officials said they expect to find more bodies. The National Weather Service has given the twister a preliminary EF4 rating.


Rohr said constant rain has hindered search and rescue operations, but that crews will continue to work throughout the night to locate survivors. So far, 48 different agencies and 450 personnel, including first responders, state police and National Guard troops have converged on the city. With severe weather predicted through Wednesday, Rohr said, rescue personnel were preparing for a difficult task.


“We know our city is strong,” Rohr said. “We’re a city of neighbors.”


When Nixon took the podium he said he had declared a state of emergency in Joplin immediately after he heard the news Sunday night. He also said that President Obama had personally promised to provide “whatever is necessary” to help clean up and rebuild the city.


“It’s been a dramatic and difficult time,” Nixon said. “We just ask everyone throughout the region and the country to pray for the people here.”


Nixon praised the efforts of rescue personnel as well as the response of “our faith-based network.” He urged community members and rescue officials to work together to make the work as smooth as possible.


“We’re going to have some very difficult shifts ahead of us and see some things that are difficult to stomach,” Nixon said. “But we’re going to complete this task, and when it’s done we will rebuild.”


Missouri’s Adjutant General, Maj. Gen. Stephen Danner, said the first National Guard troops arrived on the scene at about 9 p.m. Sunday and had begun operations by midnight.


“We’re going to work very closely with the community and officials,” Danner said. “We’re going to clear the streets and help people get back on the streets.”


Danner said the Missouri National Guard has an additional 450 troops on standby to be mobilized if they’re needed, Danner said.


“We’re going to bring in the right amount of support at the right time,” Danner said.


State Sen. Billy Long, in describing the damage, said the scene reminded him of movies about nuclear disasters.


“It’s like a nuclear bomb has hit,” Long said.


Richard Serino, deputy director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, said cleaning up after the tornado would require effort of the entire community, and pledged the “full support of the federal family.


“We’re going to be here for the long haul,” Serino said. “What it’s really going to take is citizens helping citizens...neighbors helping neighbors.”


The damage area on Monday was clogged with tourists driving through to take pictures, and Joplin Fire Chief Mitch Randles asked non-essential persons to stay away unless they had residences there.


“We need sightseers to stay out of town,” Randles said. “If you don’t live here and aren’t going to your home, you need to stay away.”