Frustration Rises Among Joplin, Mo., Residents

Originally published on May 27, 2011 6:06 pm
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Many people on that list have been found alive, but for some families, there is still little information about their loved ones, and they're distressed about how long it's taking to identify the victims. NPR's Sonari Glinton reports.

SONARI GLINTON: The local high school was having it's graduation. There was the normal Sunday traffic at the Walmart. Dennis Tyndall was out with his friends, and he left his brother hanging out at his house.

DENNIS TYNDALL: I had gone off to a friend's birthday party, and after they gave us the all clear, I pretty much flew over there, and I had to park two blocks away and climb over the rubble, and that's where I found him.

GLINTON: Dennis Tyndall and his mother Margie King say they know Michael was killed in the tornado and where his body is. What they don't understand is why they can't bury him. .

TYNDALL: We just want my brother back. That's all we want is just to get him back. We want it done and over with.

MARGIE KING: We want to know where he is so our mortuary can go pick him up, and let's get him out of the cold, you know, and taken care of.

DON BLOOM: We have to be 100 percent accurate.

GLINTON: Don Bloom is with the Federal Disaster Mortuary Response Team. That's the group that's identifying the dead here.

BLOOM: And our people are dedicated in not being pushed into making rash decisions or speeding things up. That is why the process on our side takes a little bit longer than it needs to - than you feel it needs to.

GLINTON: Bloom says while that process may seem tedious to some, it's the only way to be sure that loved ones are correctly identified.

BLOOM: From that point, we have to secure medical records. The challenge we face here is your major health facility is not operational, so some of those records may be not obtainable.

GLINTON: Governor JAY NIXON (Democrat, Missouri) The purpose of this meeting today is to provide you with practical assistance that will help you get back on your feet and start taking those first steps on the long road to recovery.

GLINTON: More than a thousand residents attended the forum. There were booths to handle everything from healthcare to unemployment insurance. Debra Giddens and her daughter Tina went to the forum to see just what the plan of action was.

NORRIS: Unidentified Woman #3: (Unintelligible) six months to have a home again. So what are we going to do next week, whenever Joplin is last week's news?

GLINTON: Sonari Glinton, NPR News, Joplin. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.