JOPLIN, Mo. (AP) – The American Red Cross is vowing not to abandon people displaced by the tornado in Joplin even as it prepares to close a large shelter at the Missouri Southern State University.
The shelter at the Leggett Platt Athletic Center will close at 5 p.m. Tuesday, the Red Cross said.
About 67 people were using the shelter when the closing was announced Friday.
The organization plans to open a smaller shelter, although the site won’t be determined until Tuesday, spokesman Steve Woods said.
He told The Joplin Globe that Missouri Southern did not pressure the agency to close the shelter.
One of those still at the shelter is Bill Mooney, who has stayed with his wife, their daughter, son-in-law and grandchildren at the shelter since their homes were destroyed by the May 22 tornado.
Mooney has applied for assistance and looked for a new home and is trying to help his daughter do the same. He said various agencies have offered assistance to those looking for a more permanent place to live but local housing is limited and assistance is slow.
“A lot of people are getting really upset,” he said.
Mooney is waiting on a check for $938 from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
He said he visited a home that would cost $300 a month for rent.
But the floor was buckled, uncarpeted and had holes in it.
“I wouldn’t let my dog live there,” he said.
Woods said the Red Cross said it is up to individuals to contact agencies and seek help.
Shelter downsizing can motivate people to find a long-term solution, he said.
“If it’s a matter of you haven’t made those calls, we’ve got you covered,” he said. “We’ll keep the shelters open, but why
haven’t you made those calls yet?”
Some shelter residents said they are waiting on some sort of assistance and turning to FEMA mobile homes as their last option.
The first of 10 FEMA mobile homes arrived Saturday at Camp Crowder in Neosho.
Woods said shelter residents should have top priority for the mobile homes, but displaced people need to be flexible
about where they live and what kind of home they are willing to occupy.
“Unfortunately, there will be some unpopular decisions that have to be made,” he said, meaning people may not be able to live in their old neighborhoods or may have to leave Joplin until more housing becomes available.
Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press