A huge tornado tore a swath through the heart of Joplin from east to west Sunday night.

A huge tornado tore a swath through the heart of Joplin from east to west Sunday night.

Damage was most severe between 15th Street and 32nd Street from west of Joplin near 28th and Black Cat Road to Range Line Road on the east side.

Thousands of homes were leveled, St. John’s Regional Medical Center was badly damaged and forced to close and evacuate, Joplin High School and Franklin Technical Center were destroyed and a number of businesses on Range Line Road were destroyed.

Reports said the huge Home Depot Store, the Walgreens Pharmacy and the 15th Street Walmart, and the businesses around that part of Range Line were destroyed or badly damaged.

In a written release, city officials said the city and Joplin R-8 School District are coordinating transportation for those who need shelter.

People can go to the following locations and a bus will take them to the shelter. People should go to:
1.  Junge Stadium on 13th Street.
2.  Forest Park Baptist Church, 7th & Rangeline.
3.  Lowe’s 24th & Rangeline.
4.  Vintage Stock, 32nd & Main.

Joplin city officials say the American Red Cross has set up a shelter in the Leggett and Platt Athletic Center and Young Gymnasium at Missouri Southern State University for people left homeless by Sunday’s devastating tornado.

“The City of Joplin understands that many families and homes have been affected by the tornado,” city officials said in a written release. “Joplin Mayor Mike Woolston has declared a local disaster due to the damage of this storm. The City has activated its Emergency Operations Center, and is working closely with American Red Cross, emergency management services and medical personnel of numerous surrounding communities to assess the damage and assist those hurt in this storm.

“We appreciate everyone’s patience, and ask if you do not have to be out in the City to please stay home and help your neighbors and friends as needed.”

The American Red Cross said a van was leaving from Springfield Sunday evening with supplies accompanied by the shelter manager, a nurse and metal health worker.

The Emergency Response Vehicle has just left the Springfield chapter office and will be on the scene in Joplin to provide assistance to the disaster victims as well as the emergency responders.

National Guard activated

Gov. Jay Nixon mobilized the Missouri National Guard after tornados ripped through Joplin earlier this evening.

"As soon as we heard the news of the tornados, the Missouri National Guard began mobilization activities," said Maj. Gen. Stephen L. Danner, adjutant general of the Missouri National Guard. "Your Missouri National Guard is bringing experienced Citizen-Soldiers and leaders to provide the best support we have to our neighbors in Joplin." 

Expected support missions include: search and rescue, emergency route clearance, communications support and security. Missouri's Soldiers and Airmen will continue working in support of local authorities until released by the governor.   For continuing updates on the response, visit www.moguard.com and our social media sites: www.facebook.com/Missouri.National.Guard; www.twitter.com/Missouri_NG. A crowdmap is hosted at: http://joplintornado.crowdmap.com/.