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On the Scene: Joplin, MO

Wed, 25 May 2011|

Chief Bobby Halton reports live on the scene from tornado-ravaged Joplin, Missouri.

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Transcript

[MUSIC]. We're heading to Joplin, Missouri. It's the day after an F three or four, hit Joplin, Missouri. Not the biggest storm you can get, but. According to the reports it just sat over Joplin and literally tore the town up. They're saying it's about a seven mile swath. Right now we're just leaving a town called Miami, Oklahoma which we were in a few months ago for another tornado. [SOUND] This is Bobby how can I help you. >> [INAUDIBLE] >> Oh, hey. I appreciate you calling me. I'm about 25 minutes out from Joplin right now. You mind if I grab a quick interview with you. >> Well, I don't mind at all. I may have trouble telling you where we're at, but I'll do my best. My associates Josh Chapman and I are hooked with our regional task force, task force one right now trying to conduct a search of demolished home people. We had a report that several people may still be trapped inside, maybe also some bodies to recover. that's where we're at right now. Walking around [UNKNOWN] well okay, operations like this before. So you know what that's like. >> Right. >> But yeah, you're welcome, you're welcome to hook up with us. I know that [UNKNOWN] plan on being here sometime after lunch today. >> Outstanding, I'll be there at about a half hour, 45 minutes. We're about 26 miles, right now from Joplin. We're in the middle of a pretty, heavy downpour, some high winds, we saw some pretty severe lightning. There are threats from more tornadoes in the area, today. So, from what we understand, this tornado sat yesterday on top of Joplin for about six miles. We're going to meet up with the task force out of Arkansas,. But just combined with a couple of other groups. They're on a commercial structure, a Home Depot, and it's been collapsed. Possible reports of people inside the Home Depot. Maybe some body recovery, or perhaps a rescue. So we'll film that as soon as we get there. So that, that's where we're at today. This is Bobby Hall, from Fire Engineering, and we're live heading into the eye of the. Storm in Joplin, Missouri. >> [MUSIC] >> And we're on scene in Joplin, Missouri the day after an F3, F4 sat on top of Joplin. Cut a six mile long. A mile and a half wide path of destruction, levelling everything in its path, including a, a hospital, which we'll show you some video of, in a bit, and a nursing home where they been doing some void searches. Right now, we know there are 90 confirmed dead. We just met with the people from the Kansas City Fire Department at their command post ...They do have surface rescue and void searches going on right now and they're coordinating many other fire departments that are coming in regionally from the area. Behind me you can see all the Kansas city units stage to deploy there, people out to search these areas. We do know we have some active searches going on in some commercial properties about 2 or 3 miles down the road. We're going to try and get to... Roads are pretty much impassable in some locations and the weather is turning on us a little bit. But we're here today, seeing what's going on. This is why the regional task force concept is so important. Our national task forces are critical for the major disasters. But when you have a local issue, like this Joplin issue. These regional task forces make a tremendous differences. They can get in quickly, the Kansas City guys were about two hours away, the Tulsa folks came up, Oklahoma City folks came up. Folks came up out of Bentonville, Arkansas and Rogers, Arkansas with their task force. Those are the kinds of people we need. They've got good experience, good USR training. They can come in, mobilize their skills quickly, identify the major problems and get to work very rapidly. Plus, their self sustainable. Kansas City task force is out here. Todds, out here with those folks there, mobilizing their resources, trying to do some searches [INAUDIBLE] searches off some of these collapsed structures here around us, as well as, coordinate some K9 units and other assets that they brought with them. Todd, any rescues so far? Enough for us. >> None yet. >> And that's a good thing. >> That's the good thing. >> Any recoveries? >> No. >> Massive devastation. How come with all of this that we see behind us, we don't have that much more loss of life? I know we have 90 confirmed at this point. >> Right. How come it wasn't worse? >> It, we're really surprised. I mean, I think a lot of people got lucky. >> Just a lot of lucky people out here. I think the construction may have had something to do with it, too. If you look around, these are older homes. This is not lightweight modern stuff that we're looking at here. This is masonry, old-style masonry >> Right. >> That really held up well. And if you look you can see some of these people have basements. And sub basements, which would have kept them fairly protected. Which probably accounts for why this residential area, which is devastated, didn't do worse. >> Right. >> So where else do we have assets from Kansas City here? Any idea? >> We work out of a regional system, where we have four fire departments in the Kansas City metro area. Kansas City, Missouri, three rescue teams, Kansas City, Kansas, one rescue team, Olathe, Kansas, one rescue team, and Jackson County, one rescue team. So we brought the Missouri side. And it kinda works well for us, because, the Kansas teams are still up in our. Area covering our back door. >> Right, in case something else gives, >> Right. >> We're supposed to get more weather today and tomorrow. >> Correct. >> So we, we could be doing this somewhere else, 60, 80, 90 miles away. >> Exactly. >> Those guys and gals would be fresh and ready to roll. >> That state- >> That's a, that's a great idea. >> That state line works really well for us they went to Greensburg. And we kind of covered their area. [CROSSTALK] So >> [CROSSTALK] And there's a ruffle. So the regional task force concept, that's what you're seeing here. The Kansas City guys with the experience can help the smaller, local departments mobilize their resources more effectively. So that's what we're seeing now. These guys are out here. Its kind of a clearing house with people who have basic or potential to do some work as well sending in the real specialist when they find some place like the school behind us or some of the larger commercial structures they get into. We are going to head over to Home Depot were the Missouri guys are operating right now and see whats happening over there. [MUSIC] Outstanding. So how wide is this devastation. >> It's my understanding it was two or three miles wide and six miles long. So this is just unbelievable. >> So you've been here since about midnight? >> Yeah, we didn't really start doing anything until about five, but we got down here at midnight. >> So what do people need? What do the locals need? Are you hearing anything? Did you meet any of the local fire yet? >> We haven't talked to them. See anybody. We're kinda, because it's, it's, it's so overwhelming for them we're just kinda staying with our own, with our own team >> Right. >> And waiting to get orders and then go on out. >> Okay, well good deal. Central Jackson, huh? >> Yea, Central Jackson. >> Outstanding. >> Nice meeting you. >> Thanks for being out here, fellas. Let us know if we can do anything for ya. >> Okay. >> So, we're on scene as the Central Jackson task force guys, they've been here since midnight. You can see it's pretty overwhelming for the locals. We're gonna head down to the Home Depot or the Wal-Mart, meet up with the task force folks down there, see what's going on. As you can see, there's nothing left in this swath here complete and utter devastation. Looks like we're standing in front of a church or what's left of what was a church. We'll keep you updated. Mark this was a school how many students were here? >> Were obviously. >> How big a school was it? >> Sunday there wasn't, it's part of a, a joint school system a Catholic school. >> Catholic school. >> And >> This is completely destroyed. >> Pretty well all destroyed the wreckery behind the church itself. Parish center. >> This is the parish center here? >> Yes sir. And, I'm not sure, exactly how many, what the count is. It's a couple of hundred I think that go here. And, there's several hundred in the, the complete school system, high school and junior high. And they were on the north side of all this, but. So you can see urban search and rescues' been through and marked. There's our markings on the wall. >> That's what a woman, I was talking to another woman and she has a brother that was down in this rest home and they haven't found him and they don't know. >> So this was a rest home over here? >> That was a, yes, right down there where the white. [INAUDIBLE] So this was a, so this was a rest home? >> Yes, [UNKNOWN] >> My gosh, that looks like it just got completely flattened >> It's gone >> [MUSIC] >> We're out here with one of the members of Missouri Task Force One, behind us is what's left of a home depot Russ you were in there earlier. How bad is it? >> It's total devastation. >> It's devastated. Any survivors come out of this building at all? [unknown] since we've been here, if they did they were before our arrival. >> So, if you survived the initial and were able to walk out that was pretty much it. >> Yes sir. >> So, are you going back in now after the lunch break? >> Yes, sir. We've been here all morning, we just broke for lunch, we're about to go back in. >> So, how many guys came down with the Missouri task force. We sent thirty nine, I believe, down. >> Thirty nine. >> One doctor, one with a dog, several paramedics and tech rescue experts. >> Okay, and we have seventy with Kansas City Regional Task Force, and we have a couple guys over in the E-O-C. >> Correct. >> So, this operation's a joint operation. I saw some Springfield units, you guys. Who else is working on this? Missouri Task Force One just arrived and they sent I think 70, 70 guys around. They've got several teams working here. >> Well alright are you doing OK? >> Yes sir. >> So you're gonna spend the night, or how, how, how you gonna rotate out? >> I don't know I'll just do whatever they need me to do. >> Got your 72 hours worth of food and clothes? >> Exactly. Appreciate your work >> Thank you. >> Take care. [MUSIC]

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