WEB EXCLUSIVE: Finalized tornado costs provide closure for City of Joplin

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JOPLIN, Mo.—The City of Joplin is turning the page on a new chapter after a finalized report of tornado costs is presented to the city council.

Report numbers totaled everything from FEMA projects, to insurance pay-outs, to volunteer dollars.

Following the 2011 tornado, totals skyrocketed from millions to billions in assessed damages. Out of that, the city was responsible for $2.1 million — roughly 12 percent of the overall total.

City Finance Director Leslie Haase says that a lot of those costs came from the city’s decision to rebuild Joplin bigger and better than ever, and with that came a price. Some projects were not fully reimbursable by FEMA as the funding only covered the amount to restore a property to its original state before the storm hit. 

One example was two Joplin fire trucks destroyed in the tornado. Both were older models and were replaced with brand new trucks. Federal funding only covered up to the value of the old trucks, so the city was left with the rollover costs. 

Haase says that the final $2 million is by no means cheap, but in the midst of the chaos from the tornado and later the rebuilding process, taking care of the community is worth every penny.

“Finance is really the last step in a disaster,” Haase explained. “You concentrate on your citizens to begin with and your community, and then fixing the items that were damaged or destroyed for the city. Last is the finance piece. We have to account for everything and work on the reimbursements. And its a true statement. Finance is just the last piece.” 

The city isn’t the only one receiving closure from the finalized report; Haase has served as the Finance Director since 2006 and was heartbroken after the EF-5 tore through her city, claiming the lives of 161 people. Watch her full interview below.

FULL INTERVIEW

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