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June 23, 2011 Volume 32, No. 32

From safe rooms to sippy cups, MU answers the call in Joplin


EXTENDING A HAND MU Chancellor Brady J. Deaton, second from right, meets with (from left) Jay Chism, interim regional director, MU Extension; Lisa Robinson, director, Small Business and Technology Development Center in Joplin; and Kathy Macomber, business development specialist with MU Extension during a recent visit to the Business Recovery Center in Joplin. The center, along with Extension personnel and the SBTDC, has been helping Joplin businesses impacted by the recent tornado.


Faculty, staff and students join relief efforts

Harold Noirfalise was home alone on May 22 when tornado sirens in Joplin sounded, warning that a monster twister was headed his way. He had just enough time to dash across the street to warn neighbors, then grab his dog and hurry inside “a safe room” – a steel box in his garage.

“Right when I shut the door, put the pin in and sat down in the chair, I could hear my roof leaving,” Noirfalise recalled.

As Joplin gets ready to rebuild, architect Jeff Barber, a University of Missouri Extension regional specialist based in Springfield, is working with builders, neighborhood associations, insurers and others to incorporate safe rooms into new and existing homes and businesses. Barber thinks that builders and homebuyers in tornado-prone areas are starting to look on safe rooms as a basic feature.

“When you look at the kind of devastation that we have in a community like this, you really can’t put a price tag on it,” Barber said.

Long after the first responders and relief agencies have departed Joplin, Extension specialists like Barber will remain on hand to provide training and education to communities, businesses, farms and families. MU Extension is part of the Governor’s Disaster Recovery Partnership and works with the State Emergency Management Agency and other organizations to provide education and assistance to coordinate recovery efforts.

State and regional Extension faculty are delivering workshops and using resource centers, websites, radio, television, print media, email and social media — including YouTube, Twitter and Facebook — to distribute educational materials and timely information resources. Through Facebook alone, MU Extension has reached more than 50,000 people following and contributing to recovery efforts in Joplin.

But the response to the devastation in Joplin by the MU community goes far beyond Extension’s role. Well before Chancellor Brady J. Deaton traveled to Joplin May 29-30 to discuss how the university could help, countless faculty, staff and students were raising and donating money to the relief efforts.

As of June 8, more than 18,500 “One State. One Spirit. One Mizzou” shirts had been sold resulting in more than $200,000 for relief efforts.

Here’s a rundown of how other departments and individuals across campus have pitched in to help their fellow Missourians:

MU HEALTH CARE: MUHC mobilized two ambulances and four crew members — Kevin Carmack, ambulance supervisor; Lori Ferguson, emergency medical technician; Nick McGavock, paramedic; and Eric Mills, assistant manager of ambulance services — who worked through the night and into the next day providing search, rescue and recovery assistance.

Two of MUHC’s Staff for Life helicopters were placed on alert standby; and safety and preparedness coordinator, Chris Smith, activated the emergency command center at University Hospital to maintain contact with state officials.

Other MUHC employees pitched in by donating money and nonperishable food items to the Joplin area through the Columbia-based Food Bank for Central and Northeast Missouri.  The American Red Cross also sponsored blood drives at University Hospital and Women’s and Children’s Hospital.

MISSOURI REHABILITATION CENTER: Steve Patterson, MRC’s executive director, spent the first two days after the tornado helping emergency workers with search, rescue and recovery efforts. Eric Snow, a physical therapist at MRC, also helped in the first critical days, while Eddie Racicot, MRC’s fire and safety officer, and David Thiessen, associate director of support services, coordinated communication with emergency medical services members throughout the state, the MRC administrative council and staff and MU leaders. Eight patients from the Joplin area were treated for injuries either directly related to the May 22 tornado or sustained during relief efforts.

COLLEGE OF VETERINARY MEDICINE’S SHELTER MEDICINE CLUB: Students collected and delivered pet-related items to the Joplin Humane Society, along with at least $875 in cash donations. The club’s activities are detailed with photos on a Facebook page, Shelter Club Collection for JHS.  The Class of 2014 organized a donations drive for bottled water, food and toiletries, as well as gift card and cash donations. Other monetary donations were directed to the American Red Cross. One member of that class is from Joplin and helped organize the delivery of those items.

INTERCOLLEGIATE ATHLETICS: Frank Haith, MU’s men’s basketball coach, and football coach Gary Pinkel traveled to Joplin to visit recovery shelters. Dozens of student-athletes and athletics staff helped deliver a tractor trailer loaded with bottled water, toilet paper, flashlights, cleaning supplies and first-aid supplies.

Mizzou alumnus Chase Daniel, now a NFL quarterback, came to Columbia and raised $5,000 by signing autographs for contributions to the relief effort. Daniel also visited Joplin with the MU football team. Recent NFL first round draft pick Blaine Gabbert has signed memorabilia to auction off with proceeds benefitting the efforts in Joplin.

MU Athletics initiated conversation with Missouri Southern State University to stage the One State, One Spirit Classic Presented by Leggett & Platt men’s basketball exhibition game now scheduled for Oct. 30, with all proceeds going to Joplin relief.

MIZZOU LICENSING: The Licensing Trademark Program donated 100 Truman the Tiger Build-A-Bears for men’s basketball coach Frank Haith to distribute to children during his visit to Joplin.

MARCHING MIZZOU: Marching Mizzou members led by Band Director Brad Snow delivered a 26-foot truck loaded with supplies to Webb City High School. The truck was filled with items collected from various MU entities, including the Mizzou Alumni Association and the athletic department.

CAMPUS FACILITIES: University Auto Leasing donated a cargo van and gas to transport items collected for the Joplin Humane Society. Engineers Marsha Smith and Mike Cobb and architect Gerald Morgan went to Joplin with the State Emergency Management Agency’s SAVE (Structural Assessment and Visual Evaluation) program. Construction services employees Jerry McCowan and Rocky Coleman, their wives and friends went to Joplin to deliver donated items. They also set up grills in a church parking lot and cooked for anyone who needed a meal.

CENTER FOR FAMILY POLICY AND RESEARCH: Director Kathy Thornburg, collected items for infants and children, including infant formula, diapers and wipes, baby bottles, sippy cups, food, stuffed animals, children’s books, and clothes.

DEVELOPMENT: Andrew Grabau and Sheila Wieman collected baby items and gift cards for Joplin newborns and children. 

KOMU: KOMU, in partnership with Heart of Missouri United Way, raised more than $1 million in a two-hour telethon just days after the Joplin tragedy.

SCHOOL OF MUSIC: Mizzou students, alumni and faculty performed at a special event on June 2 at Whitmore Recital Hall to generate donations for Joplin relief.

THOMPSON CENTER FOR AUTISM AND NEURODEVELOPMENTAL DISORDERS: The Center continues to collect money to send to the Joplin Autism Center, which was destroyed by the tornado. The Joplin center has moved to a temporary location and continues to see patients, but many of the families need financial assistance to purchase gas to travel to the temporary site.

HUMAN ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES: Michael Goldschmidt in Architectural Studies was called up to assist the Structural Assessment Visual Evaluation (SAVE) program.

For more information on how to help, please visit