Much like parts of Joplin, it’s hard to tell there was an EF-5 tornado that ripped through the community of Duquesne ten years ago, but former Mayor Denny White says looks can be deceiving
“I lived at 10th and Duquesne. I was lucky. It missed me, but it just tore this town apart, and Joplin. It was just unbelievable the things you’d see that night, homes just gone, people trapped in homes, it was a mess,” says White.
He can’t say enough about the will of the people who make up this resilient community.
“It wasn’t about two days when I was up working at my business and I heard this. Hammers, hammers rebuilding already. It went on for months, years, and the people out here, I guarantee you they were tough. They stayed with it and rebuilt homes,” he says.
While residents that survive a disaster often look towards their government for strength and fortitude, White says, for him, it was just the opposite.
“It was a pleasure to be a Mayor here, and I was sorry I had to be part of a tornado but it changed my life,” says White.
Even though he wasn’t invited, he says he and the city’s clerk went to a meeting between FEMA and the City of Joplin the very next day.
White explains, “I stood up and said, ‘I’m the mayor of Duquesne, Missouri’ and said it came right through us too, you know. Within two hours they were out here starting paper work on everything so I couldn’t complain. We had volunteers. It was the best thing you could ever ask for. We had a food deal set up under the car port, we fed anybody, we had a grocery deal, we had clothing, we gave away everything.”
While some people in southwest Missouri aren’t quick to ask for help, under any circumstance, he’s glad he did, and, as far as he’s concerned, the federal government listened.
“And there’s a lot of paperwork when you deal with FEMA, but, they’ve been very good to Duquesne, we’ve got a lot of money off of them, and we needed it, there’s no question about that, but I’ll never forget it if I live to 100, and I’m getting closer all the time,” says White.