Although the townspeople are still sifting through the wreckage of their homes and businesses, one organization in St. Louis assured the citizens of Joplin that they are not alone.
Cheryl Polk, Vice President of the United Way of Greater St. Louis, stated today that relief efforts in the tornado-ravaged city were ongoing, and that quite a few people have turned out to help.
“So far, we’ve had about 5,000 people who have actually participated in a little more than a hundred projects,” she said. ”We’ve had over 12,000 people register through United Way’s 2-1-1 System to volunteer.”
Polk also noted that the organization has another 200 projects scheduled this month, providing potential volunteers with lots of ways to assist the ailing southwestern Missouri city.
“We can put you in a position to help people right there on the ground with a number of projects that are going to help that community begin to rebuild,” she said.
“We have people that are helping with debris removal, they’re helping with pets, they’re helping get food and clothing, so they really do have a lot of availability for people to help.”
Polk noted though that people facing their own tragedies had shown up in Joplin.
“We’ve even had people that were impacted by the storms here in St. Louis help the people in Joplin which is really a strong showing of support for our community, for our state,” she said.
One such St. Louisan was local businessman Dennis Ruckman, who loaded up a truck yesterday with 3,000 rolls of toilet paper, soap and other supplies and drove down there with his family.
“I saw . . . a lot of just emptiness,” he said. “They’ve moved people out of the areas because literally they lost their cars, they lost their house they lost their clothes.
Ruckman met with a Salvation Army worker in Joplin who told him that approximately 12,500 buildings are “on the ground.”
“And when I mean on the ground, I mean buildings in the basement, house gone; you can’t even tell it was a house,” he said.
Despite the ongoing desperate situation, Polk remained confident about the amount of support coming in.
She also added, with a hint of pride, that’s ”how we operate in the Midwest.”