Home>Topics>>After the Tornado: Interview with Joplin (MO) Fire Chief Mitchell Randles

After the Tornado: Interview with Joplin (MO) Fire Chief Mitchell Randles

Thu, 28 Jul 2011|

Chief Bobby Halton intervews Fire Chief Mitchell Randles about the devastating tornado that struck Joplin, Missouri, on May 22, 2011, killing 158 people.

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Automatically Generated Transcript (may not be 100% accurate)

And. I'm Molly Altman editor in chief before hearing magazine and this afternoon we have tremendous pleasure we'll sit down with. Fire chief Mitch -- from Joplin Missouri. On May 22 at 541. 2011. The -- of Joplin was literally torn off by an F four F five tornado. That went for fourteen miles. Through the length of Joplin Missouri -- mile wide in some spots but fourteen miles of devastation. During that time of the job -- part part remained on -- -- respondent heroic and courageous fashion. And did tremendous work there are several dates in America our service that we all recognize. May 22 it's gonna become one of those states like nine. Weren't credible courage incredible sacrifice incredible dedication. -- common among all men and women of this organization. They never faltered in hesitated. Never put themselves ahead of the people who -- and and they and they and the city jobs. -- put themselves second in every instance and in some cases third despite losing their own homes despite having stations destroyed. Despite having. Unimaginable devastation. They persevered they innovated they created. They did what they plan to do. Did evolved beyond what they plan to do they set an example of bar for all of us. -- -- and for that we thank you. I'm very honored to have the leader of this incredible organization with us. A man who was born raised and Joplin Missouri yes that's -- twenty years of service to the city Joplin. And currently sits the fire chief of this proud and noble organization chief thank you for. -- to spend some time while we appreciate you guys can happen in well known we're honored to be here and thank you for the time so your family is. Joplin how many generations of them Joplin folks in the family. Well as far back is as I can -- call you know my family my wife's family both. Were born raised yours so at least two or three generations back. Either Joplin Webb city area and -- -- -- grown in Joplin is -- fourth largest city in the state of Missouri right in yeah I hit over the years. You know they've made you know tremendous strides in and has been moving forward so. It's a beautiful absolutely beautiful -- for folks haven't done to Joplin. It's almost picturesque it's got a beautiful downtown with you know the old 1940 style buildings with the ornate. Choruses and things of that nature that it had the residential district which unfortunately it was destroyed his beautiful home -- And tell folks to do is. Go to those Google Earth pictures before. NC you know idea of these picturesque neighborhoods that -- just. Gorgeous and it's -- you know or people want -- -- Obviously it's. Great place to -- Right and and I agree and that you know the city is really worked -- over the last several years to. You know maintain and have a rebirth of the history of the city Joplin. Back to -- -- appointees to the forties -- the you know basically the mining boom was going on here and and you know the city really. Embraces its history stuff any and you can see you can see that the Billings -- -- -- we we call America disposable nation but. There's a lot of cities in America that didn't fall prey to that and and are embracing the restoration of these gorgeous buildings it is wonderful buildings. If you wouldn't mind and I know it's painful and we should probably tell everyone that the chief -- this -- All your family safe. Yes they they are all sorts. But many 153 people lost their allies. Actually were we're now 15800. Of this morning. 158 as of this morning. So it was the deadliest tornado in the history -- the United States. It's it's very close I think we are now yes. Well I guess since we kept records and you know may be. Way back in the day that as far as we know this was the deadliest tornado. So. If you don't mind and I know it's painful if you don't mind take respect may 22. 5:30 PM where were you what we you do. While I was actually at my sons are high school graduation. Yeah I graduated from -- -- high school. We had just finished the ceremony when I got a call one. From my emergency mangers you know tell me that -- -- was. Getting pretty bad that their integrity issued tornado warnings and and that you know -- probably needed so think about getting the work hand. So as we were leaving. You you know the the graduation ceremony you know it's gonna -- my my wife my kids home. And then you'll get uniform and had -- to the station and hand you know kind of do or normal -- routine that we that we have when. You events like this well events like this but when normal weather things happen. So what does that do lot of just interrupt you won't what is the normal storm routine what -- men and women do. Well to declare emergency manager. In a secondary chief officer would come in and monitor the weather in you know just. Be here to help we're dispatchers and are on the folks make that decision on. You know semi storm sirens on the -- the path of the storm and you alerting the citizens and hand you know just the the normal things -- -- two. You know the decisions that are made. By any of that the towns that are in the midwest -- you know in tornado alleys. Which nowadays goes from basically California to Ohio you that while I was in Boston just threw four weeks ago. Two counts were leveled by and a four. In Boston -- to Springfield Massachusetts. So it's about 5:30 PM you're leaving your son's graduation. You get the call might be time to do -- weather -- right get ready. Yeah you know him in had started started like I said -- take my wife and my my kids home and just for some reason. You know I just got a feeling that you know and probably need to get on in that. In the work so we turned instead of going home and has brought them here with me and in. You know got this station and oh about 535 or so in. You're just a few minutes before hand. -- manager I would who was watching the library or that we have available to us here and him win. We got a report. You know tornado on on radar it was on the western nations and when -- sounded the sirens for a second time. And now you we called off responses by the fire crews and you instructed them all the head for cover as well. And then just a few minutes later we started getting -- reports of you know damage and debris and and you know that's where you hit the western side tail so it it came from the west. And the chopper was kind of a rectangular city. Yes and it literally is almost dead center. Just a little bit south of dead senators and looks on -- on the maps. And just started coming through right -- So so you're you're here physically here which is downtown right and and just a little bit. North of the storm won the storm -- about half mile quarter mile. -- -- -- So you're you -- here with with the statement you have a crew here with two engines and just what they're they were on a ladder truck ladder truck yeah so you have a crew here. So as its source -- come through what was the first major. Part of Joplin is at the hospital authors -- Steve -- the first major. Yet actually touched. Down. -- one of our neighborhoods on the west side of town actually almost right on top of the site where we're getting very build and the fire -- fire -- six. And progressed -- through town. It really intensified once it got to about -- -- You know road -- here in town which is want to get on the west that it pale. And who really intensified want to got the maiden lane which is worsening John's hospital is and where. Where my partition opportunist so. There's currently five fire stations you're planning -- sixth right you have you know you're you're on -- strength is -- twenty to twenty -- point worth what assurances that in the course we typically have some vacations and their partners in your total strength chief -- -- -- 8080 -- -- -- -- eighty men and women available to. Right now you've got 24 on duty this. Horrible tornadoes bearing down on the city you've got your people undercover. What happens next year here what do you what do you start hearing what's. Well probably the next thing that we here is the crew from fire station to call in stating that they've been hit by the tornado and that. And that there -- -- is of course out of service in the station's been destroyed. Destroyed destroyed. How did they stay safe where were they what kept -- -- How well it's a station was built back in the eighties and you know what's in that type fiber wood -- construction. You know they got taken to an interior restroom in the captain's -- and area and basically the forum hunkered down in the shower with with a couple of mattresses -- -- -- tornado basically disassembled the building. Oh well countless men survived they survived last -- -- -- not a scratch on you know so you got these four firefighters out there there engines disabled but they're they're okay right so radios are still working. Absolutely. You know we just installed -- the -- digital war 800 -- system back. Public couple three years ago in and it performed flawlessly throughout the event. So you so now you've got reports station to spend it and you know that much you know I remember -- -- right but I don't mean to use -- Pejorative -- men and women whatever the wherever they were -- so that your your crews could and you're still here at that point. The tornado come all the way through the -- is is where they were reporting generally. They were reporting generally course they were of their on the forward west -- -- so. They -- reporting in very early tornado was still progressing through -- that time. Give us an idea for those with -- I currently live in Tulsa Oklahoma so I'm starting to learn about tornadoes but on the New York City -- -- so and we actually. What to -- to -- -- put into our house before your tornado after tornado three people in my neighborhood put it in safe rooms Grassley got pressure for that. And routinely during storms are neighbors will show up at our home because they know we have one and it was totally but -- people. Fees shortly after your tornado we -- like twenty neighbors at that show notes -- -- -- -- storm and after that that would decide to get their own. But the than the -- are safe you're safe this tornado. So I'm trying to get to is how big is -- tornadoes footprint in other words it's hard for people picture tornadoes is being very isolated but this thing. It's a twelve mile wide right and was so what's the circumference around is it like a mile always like it that is the -- amber that a model do you think is that. Is that how it works -- yeah I think at its widest point it was problem. Only about a mile. A mile in -- and in the damage passed what was at least a mile for most of it through through the center -- You know the actual I guess what you called the catastrophic devastation that area was about. Eight to ten blocks wide at its widest organ -- for the majority of town it was probably about six to seven blocks one. The China -- now there are even simulate it it blocks well. You're not out running out of the car is -- if -- if you're on the path of that that's yeah. And yes it's speed on the ground in chief what would you -- what does it do there. What if they were talking about that -- slow moving this one as you know most tornadoes that come through the midwest or fairways that quick -- -- -- moving. You know 5067 miles an hour. That the mileage I've heard of this one is like 125. So this thing's just lumbering through correct and the wind speeds were. Over 200 miles an hour this all the weather service -- You know we we saw several things that are just you know incredible to believe. -- and we saw vehicles wrapped literally wrapped all the way around trees and touching. You know each other on you know that unions -- put -- it won't wrap around wrapped around trees. You know we saw. Two performers in pieces of -- there. Or other materials that word we're drove through homes concrete walls. We have 12 before we found that we've got a picture of that was had actually -- drove through a -- street curb a concrete street -- And in penetrated -- you know probably five to six feet through. Hold goodness I know my house -- I find it up their few days later I found a curtain rod. That it completely penetrated the the picture -- my home I'm talking you know have little small metal curtain rod. That it penetrated through to about four. You know insulated -- On a home in and completely through entry into the issue rock. And others about is -- -- six foot long -- that was hanging out the outside in about three that was inside of that the rest of it was in the. Walls so here's this mile wide monster with 200 -- -- hour -- it's just devastated -- for. Coming through the city. And in your -- down here with your wife and kids. And at what what starts out what we've would be here now assisting progress. Well of course you know we heard that station -- had been hit so we've got you know we've got the confirmed tornado on the ground we've got -- confirmed damage. You know for our emergency plans it's obvious that you know we're -- -- need assistance. And so you know at this point in time we don't know that it's you know the half mile or mile wide. We don't know how or ethnic. But I get by the time -- that was on duty that -- to start -- -- from -- from our neighboring departments. You know -- -- its managers are setting up the EOC and contacting department heads. And that you know basically start for calling back folks to get -- -- and so we can sort they have bulletin in response -- -- cell -- restore viewers are mostly cell phones is on the -- were still working cellphones were doing okay outside of the the image area. You know within the damage area of course what's in the cellphone for the first point 448 hours were pretty much. Useless. You had some texting ability but this for his voice conversations. For about two to three days He just didn't have little towers are gone because all the towers are -- and all the powers down to the powers that our -- But shortly after that I is that pretty much justice to it said they've been hit and and had been destroyed. I told by the time -- -- can go out and just check on the -- crew make sure they were okay. Has -- that and then start just a quick when you serve -- survey. You know the extent. You know because you know first and we had to do is figure out. You know how bad have we been here you know how long is this thing how bad is that -- and mean and you know what are -- or capabilities that are left. Hand so I had for for station to both your kids with you -- yes both of us so we knew your family was here up the family was here it was safe and my wife and -- -- actually seen believe they saw the tornado. Bill passed they were down try to get some cell phone reception the warm family members and they believe they actually saw the tornado -- progressed through -- So that what do you figure out you do you. -- I can't and and -- for folks that haven't been here I can't imagine what was going through your mind when you hit twentieth street. Well how when a -- that the station to. You know I was obviously shocked at the images and and the destruction. And we had two engines and I and a brush -- that that station. One of the engines in the brush for were completely buried under the rubble of station to. There was a white course that He now from the driveway which I guess -- actually been driving down the street. Had gotten lifted up the blown into the station actually impacted our station. When the crew you know basically when when it passed the crew came out of there. -- shelter. That walked out looked in and there's four people in if they survive they did survive the crew got him out treated them quickly in that. You know grab the pick -- truck that IQ of America's one of mayors are it was you know someone driving by in transported them down to the hospital. So the hospital is still up and running at this. This -- -- -- got back up and running our wealth no actually the hospital war pretty much. Was devastated once again. You know very few if any windows left in it all of course although power was down. -- merchant generator was on the north side of the building so it was down it would it'd been destroyed. There are several gas leaks when the building in. You know they were they weren't pretty rough way. When the first when the first folks out there but transportable over the other hospital which is about a quarter mile away and and that got -- -- -- here. In in the rest of. Crew so these guys are providers and grab a pickup truck and churches people stabilize them and and start over that -- so these -- you -- people talk about. Writing protocols and policies and procedures. Can't -- that kind. Yeah you can't in. Yeah I've been asked probably a dozen times -- did you follow your merchants planning and you know I'd love to say yes we did that no way we did I mean this was not written in the -- plan. You know. We never plan on losing a level two trauma center. You know and having it just to completely devastated. You know losing TR Kelly -- would be part of the plan. And we'll examine uses level -- trauma station network entries for people -- these few facilities and and you'll basically that was just wiped off the map I. Or -- exist -- our Segway of saying it that it was actually moved on this foundation is that true. I don't believe there's actually moved. In talking with the engineers about talking with fever and in that. The hospitals. You know dealt with I believe that was more twisted it got kind of that portion -- put on -- confirmed about four inches. And still turn the building four inches that's it and you know it's its products stout building absolutely you know compared to the building we're in right now which is. Hewitt former -- -- fallout shelter with the you know three foot thick floors and walls. It was in the because -- blast that was probably the second strongest building and down. You'll probably our only true type one construction building in pale. And it -- say it is devastated that building so. So so you're out there with its crew of station through -- -- which triage and treating people as they can. On the fly. That were they able to get any of their equipment operational or they're just completely their equivalents completely. What we were able to what they got one of the engines. It had been damaged. And but we were still able to get out get it in the service. It it didn't look for -- that it was operational and now we did run out of there for about. Three or four days until we can get some replacements in in the -- So we we did at least have that when available to us for that for the first you know -- critical hours. How how long do you give us a sense of how long it was more about twelve miles an hour it's 5:40 in the evening. When it -- com about what time was that when it lifted off and you were able to get him. Start take a look at things along those that would total about what time of the evening would you be. There on the west side. You know probably about 6 o'clock -- when when we need we actually I got the two crew started and I adapted to start on the -- shall serve that in. Yes about twenty minutes after the initial touchdown. You still have about two hours of daylight. You know about pitted two to three and a half hours of daylight that the trotted to -- -- surveyed and and you get some responses -- And and give us a sense. Need to use that mean. As the fire can. Yeah I mean that's that's look at what it -- -- you know. And it's you know it's well things and they want to get policy the president asked the hundred kinds of the word gets started in -- that -- so many places to start. -- have to pick somewhere right. And you know for for us the and that you know five stations five vehicles. You know we've got calling -- coming back in and -- got mutually partners' common. But -- want -- even with everybody -- within thirty miles of -- just showing up instantaneously. -- still don't have enough people to deal with everybody that needs assistance. Typical crisis response you you don't have enough folks early on and then right soon you have. More more folks than than you really want right not that you can you can manage them but it did becomes a point where yet still people okay -- -- -- here. Well and things things don't you want to get to that point things don't move as quickly as what people wanna do -- wanna move in in myself included. You know we want we want to move through this very quick we want to be very responsive to the citizens needs and you know were once you do get that number of cruise and hand. You know helpers and it it does take you awhile to to get them -- -- you know an effective manner and and there. In a pattern that you can you know you can check off homes and instruction. So and the and the weather wasn't cooperating like a lot of people picture tornadoes in the sun comes out it's a normal day. But you're -- -- you were inundated with several storms for several days after this. -- we were in you know we yet we dealt with the rain probably for the first thirty to 45 minutes following the the tornado. And that it did clear off for that night in that through part of the next day. You know that next day we started getting reports of severe weather headed our way of -- can we went under tornado warnings two separate times the following night. And He you don't want to gain -- you think okay I've got hit by this thing in now you know we need that. We've -- break in the clouds if you will to give us time to to help folks in the try to recover. It just didn't happen. -- so you the tornado has come through and you're doing the windshield survey. You're crews are reporting back into the operations chief and you're setting -- -- -- and on mutual aid and doing all the normal things we would do. How many surface rescues anecdotally do you think your folks performed that first evening causing most of them hundreds. Yeah you know that's the bad part is you know during those first few hours you you wanna try to capture as much of the information -- -- You you know I don't believe that we're gonna ever know truly. How many were actually perform between. You know the fire of the police the EMS crews that came in the town to assist us. You know in that first twelve to 24 hour period I would have to say literally. You know hundreds if not thousands of surface rescues and and you know -- was given to the walking wounded who -- the or even some of the more severe wounded. You know not only did the the emergency response community but the citizens and down. You know we're transporting people would pick up trucks -- -- or just whatever they had available. You know trying to get them to either triage areas that we had set up throughout the city. Or to the hospitals or you know that just some sort of a place where they can -- care that they that they needed because of the injuries from this war. -- -- is who we arrived. Monday morning. -- 10 -- how many of the street should clear to -- right clearly you're. Public works department that is. Outstanding job of clearing the roads because that. In the murders responders in the traffic was doing well and in your law enforcement people that an exemplary job because that. Every intersection -- Officers. Added who have managing traffic flow and -- -- -- wonderful job. And you you know so we saw a lot of you mutually -- a lot of your folks. Working in trying to do searches. Right so how do you. If you give -- a sense that nice source the fall. Here you -- recognized here you're. He's been hit by an incredible. Act of nature and how many homes that. You know now exactly but how many homes. To kick it people system is a third of the community right how many homes. I'm Heidi you know what we're here and now from -- is from -- for more planners and in our building staff is right around. Eight 8000 -- -- so you know that's homes and apartments individual apartments. So you know if you will we've got you know. Over 8000 because obviously a lot of those have more than one person living there is -- For the city what they estimated was about about two and a half people -- structure so you know if you take that you know you've got 16181000. People. This place is nursing homes and places where your densities McIntyre exactly. Canoes and churches and -- really don't -- you -- in this was a Sunday night. You know not only are we in the middle of tornado Alley but we're in the Bible -- so very. Were religious and you -- -- doctoring. You know population. And you know all evening services. O'clock 530 and services -- -- so a lot of people were either on the wait you were were at church her. You know of course -- the high school graduation on a significant amount of the population was out there you know there was some. You know 45000 people at the graduation ceremonies and anything that helps -- chief in terms of having some folks this was a high schooler would. The notifications when -- twice right so did the people the high school get those who vacations as well that they. Well it does anybody know what was going on -- luckily graduation was out of college local university that is on the north part of -- so. The high school was actually empty at the time which was once in a blessing for us and and for the community didn't get devastated yes the high school and destroyed. Suffered significant damage and as well as as a technical school -- next -- to it so you know we would have been having the the graduation ceremonies they're. You know I think the death toll would have probably been significantly higher than what it currently is so. You know a little bit what that -- along with us that -- You know I'm very glad that that graduation was over known as the responds to -- that -- high school. So that this. That helped keep some folks out of harm's way. And then the warnings that one. There was some stuff on -- MSNBC and then some of the major networks where they. Implied that folks may have ignored the warnings but I don't think that's I don't think I don't think notice that these Kos folks I was raised there. But I don't think they understand what people do to take cover here right in and in the midwest and people. Took -- -- -- -- -- this was just a storm of unimaginable. -- That that's right in the end you know it. Living in the midwest. You know tornado warnings and thunderstorm warnings or are pretty much a -- of dailies will life is it is it's a way of life issues like if you live on the coast with hurricanes. You know it's a very common very common occurrence for the folks import. And you know the goal from the -- Atlantic coast. You know around here it's not unusual it you know and -- the weeks since then. You know we probably had -- different. Thunderstorm warnings. Since then -- and you know in in probably about six or so tornado warnings have been issued just since may 22. So it's a it's a very normal mode of life for the midwest and any of the communities around here. To say that people ignored the warning -- I don't know that that would be fair to say but. Like wants -- they are very very much a part of normal life -- -- did the warnings in that first warning them about wanting to point five minutes before the storm impacted us. Did people are scrambling for cover then and I think that the obviously it's risen. Well it. Think that people need to understand two and a tornado warning comes out. They don't saying it's gonna go down you know. Between third street and twentieth street with it if it bit it's not that precise. -- you know so you if the warning is just basically to raise your awareness level so folks do you know they make sure that the waters of the -- -- where they're gonna take cover and that they you know sure it's an autistic if you own awareness level it's not a it's not as specific because. With -- tornado. Even if you knew it was coming and so it's it's a mile wide. Exactly are you gonna -- exactly and you know the second warning that was about three minutes before the tornado struck the city. You know in talking with folks. After afterwards. In that first morning everybody was aware of the start watching the weather and those types of things. The second one. I heard you know -- Numerous more people were headed for cover and taking shelter but -- in the whether -- deteriorated significantly obviously -- -- -- minutes. Just a first. You said you're -- your son and your wife thought they -- it. And and I've I've never seen one. That neither -- -- which has seen if -- always ask me it was a little. How would they describe because of what I've -- isn't it just looks like really dark. -- It's in the and that's pretty much they just described as a as a dark shadow that was moving across pale. So you know course they were extraordinarily scared when they sought to. I can I can only imagine I mean that -- it had to be you know an extremely terrifying. Ordeal that you thirsty at number one or two actually lived through it could mean you know the B unit and I used to be assured the fire chief. Responsible for all these good folks of all these gas -- -- -- and you do you wish you'll survey He had to fire stations that would -- to correct that's right. Shortly after getting up to two and checking on them of course we heard from our station forcing that they've been -- -- What -- -- -- their vehicles were destroyed as well. Did you know that. -- you know. It would it was a significant impact to us you know and it it it's definitely hampered -- response capabilities. You know what -- got a -- the -- captain of our battalion chief on on the radio from station for their their vehicle with an inoperable. And so we just basically. You know salvage some of the in -- equipment in the rescue equipment that we. Through to when the personal pick ups of the captain that. Actually ended up being destroyed as well and and then just driving it to different sites where we had people trapped -- And that trying to -- rescues them you know -- -- we shall serve and you. -- -- -- -- -- -- -- Formulated in your mind what you're up against where did you go after that over the use either way you report yet we we came back to the you'll -- -- it and then during that we shall -- had gotten a hold of the city manager. We had met. On main street about the middle -- -- the station and actually He. He -- -- performed few rescues of our -- what -- -- doing the -- -- oh all of the folks at some basements and in that out of a collapse churches we were doing wrong on the receiving better that a manager again He was a real troopers and you don't. He got thrust into some situations that. He's not used to dealing with a -- hand. You know I think you told me that it was the first time he'd actually seen folks that have had been deceased. You know without being through you know like a mortuary scandal and or whatever the real -- does the -- victims -- and you know we saw we saw dozens that night -- and I know it's affected him and and you know yes this you know how do you have you guys do that and you know it it's just that and fortunately it's that a part of of the -- -- you know of the job requirements were for the park service three administer police that's the see that and I think he's got a much better understanding now what what we do what we do with -- I feel bad for -- in this situation but -- -- point -- time I think we. You know we affected you know the rescued several folks from less -- from a couple basements and and you know for much for sure that it collapsed on some people's. It was -- it was also well you know a good port or or surveys. What we got them that we did come back and here we laid out -- basic path of this form. And started URG I asked folks to drawing -- system maps and some. Massive grids to start getting some grid searches setup so you know within about an hour. An hour and a half of the storm. You know we had a general path of the tornado we had a general. Area that was affected and we had. You know agreed plan getting set up -- -- RG I asked folks to get out to the responders so we can start to get some kind of you know they yeah. You know some sort order to the search patterns and and to where we did and where we still needed. That reminds you when you're talking. Jon -- -- from Oklahoma City. Went through the devastating. One. And right for the -- and like you John lost his home and lost everything. And -- initially it's we shall surveys surface rescues right trying to assess. What are we have here what we need what's -- What's our what's our what's our damage whatsoever what's our plan going to be and for you it's got -- even more. Intricate away because for the Oklahoma City people. Lots more resources. Much. Concord did the -- Joplin Missouri as -- rolling. And hilly area a lot of people -- -- -- is all flat like Illinois Indiana corn fields right this is very -- -- city with beautiful. Hills and little valleys so you really needed to drive that fourteen miles nor -- understand right what it happened so you've done that you back here. Now the city manager assumes enrollments and commander power outage -- you operational from that point. I'm had pretty much what that what we did this course He was you know He is the -- treason charge of the overall city rate is don't -- the phone call right but. Yeah He He turned to took it to me basically and you last what do we do. In you know were -- that incident command thing you've been talking about exactly. You know that's I was talking with a great gains from yes our administration yesterday. The -- in the city you know I just completed my yet who. Certification in I put message you know when I was -- that day in Pittsburgh in my third you're going through you some months that they're thinking. Boy. You you will never do anything like this and that that's some words -- -- now because. But that was it extraordinarily helpful class -- in I was so glad that I -- through it. Because it did help me think -- -- not only what I needed to do in the next twelve to 24 hours but what I -- -- that. And you know what resources are needed to get started towards you know towards -- city. And -- we said banner basically on on a white board with the department -- we had in which was about half of them at that time. Started to outline you know what what our first immediate needs and and you know of course the first from a search rescue and -- medical care -- you know the citizens that were affected. You know secondly was getting some sort of a coordinated search. To go house to house it is to search those homes that were were affected. And then third it was the start providing. You know shelter. For. The the citizens that have lost their homes but were okay potentially 16120000. People exactly. You know -- and trying to get -- shelter so. We started with that initial list and and then moved on from there. You know I think once we solve the you know the level of devastation in the probably the -- miles that we drove. You know we -- You know it was obviously we're have a significant amount of injuries it was obvious we're gonna have significant amount did. And it was obvious that you know this had -- not only our local capabilities. Or local. You know department and in to our normal mutually partners. But -- outgrown or regional plain mean and -- and probably our state plan. Because of just the number. Affected residents individuals. And just the amount of devastation I mean it just. He you know you you go out you go to search -- stuff and it's not just like lifting up something look at under you know this is in her intertwined. You know just. You know -- together. There -- is not a collapses and He kind of traditional -- exactly honest it's not structural collapse from some faulty component or. Even fire damage we can get pancakes and -- -- -- this is like a blender. Yeah it ended and that's exactly what I've heard -- called and it's just like taking you know what. Oh gosh you know what a six and a half mile long you mile wide section of -- city. Throwing everything into a blender and hit and liquefied. And it's of this very heartening to hear you say when you vote training. -- management preparedness classes that I took. Came -- play him -- a significant difference because oftentimes people ask us what He -- so much was that's so important at home. You have to train every day because of the problems like this no one could foresee the types of -- -- folks would have perform. You know crimping gas line -- I'm sure they had to do it mean you can't. There's no more just isolated problems it's not it's every everyone has to become among -- -- the sorts exactly that that requires training. And innovation. Confidence and the ability to act without. Permission and move it which is great we are speaking earlier about that we follow the plan the best -- list of well trained people and trust them. It exactly and you know that's what I was talking with -- you know yesterday when. You know when chief gains cold and I appointments that you know I think that the the thing that contributed the most is access to the successes that are -- -- told us that we had here. Is the fact that. You know. Not only in my department but in other departments around this within our region and within the city -- that within the city leadership we have. The right people. In the right jobs reforming the right work hand in and that -- show us. So critical so to what we've been able -- to do here in last. Five weeks -- the -- in I can tell you within my department I knew that once -- -- my deputy chief operations chief my battalion chief. You know wind out of where I want to go that I didn't need that to check on them or micromanage them. I knew them I trusted them. And I counted on them to get the test and that. And that freed me up to to get the larger picture. OK they're taking care of the here and now. -- -- going to be twelve hours from now we're point four hour from now or 48 hours from now it allowed me to do that future planning. To get them. Resources and equipment and and get their needs taking care of win win those times -- -- It it was it was extraordinarily valuable to have those well trained and and and what's in those people that were able to improvise and respond to the incidence and because. What you like you say there's there's no way you can predict this there's no way you can even. You know the human mind I don't think can imagine an event like this. And you've got to just be in kind of reaction mode. You know after looking for everything written -- -- plan it wasn't there and I can't produce it. You know -- -- lot of what we were doing was reacted by what we knew we -- to -- -- what we -- was right to do it -- and what's -- having those those people that. We're capable that -- well trained. And that were more trusted to do the job I think. You know not only within my department but within the city -- within the region. Really. Or the ones that spelled. On the success of this no more so than just you know -- my role I mean I've been the very public figure of the of the fire response here intent on. But that's -- I mean a I I honestly. You know depended counted. On and on all of the folks not only within my department but but regionally you know we've been working on regional planning. -- -- and and with other apartments both Springfield Missouri Branson -- we've we've -- regionally since. You know 2002. And all of that planning all of that. But time getting -- know folks and getting in the capabilities really paid off in this thing. Good neighbors and good relationships with those neighbors really is that -- is the key and -- with one of the things that we talk about all the time we talk about trading is. One of the most critical things we develop betraying his trust from one another. And it was an -- -- said four brave men. Do not know each other well -- to tackle line but for less brave man. Mutually assured of each other's -- reliability and trust knowing each other we'll attack resolutely. So developing those relationships. Is so critical and and you see -- some departments that are -- so we're not gonna need anybody's help. Yeah that that's that that's a bad plan and you guys fortunately didn't have that mindset you. Right -- it was a very what's very warm community Begin with but -- organization you obviously -- your men and women are. Those kinds of folks to its. You know -- very warm very open very gracious people and so I think that. The probably played a lot and how well things went and things that go well you. We arrived 8 o'clock in the morning and it was a beehive of activity and all those bees were wearing either yellow -- -- black gear. And they were going through the buildings were -- -- the markings were on the buildings and this is less than twelve hours after -- leave me fourteen hours after -- been hit and so much work or even done is just amazing to see. And I think that that the training aspect there is is huge and really it really came through. Let's talk a minute about your men and women -- and it's important folks know. For your folks besides yourself so -- -- 3333 -- -- lost everything that's correct. Homes are gone yes so right now you're you guys are living in temporary market conditions and temporary. Yeah -- you know either with for friends or family or you know got the revolt some swore. You know. You know -- with me on me I'm in a duplex right now a fairly small -- -- compared. -- -- the size of -- home before so. So you're you're looking down the barrel of a week that that. Ten days of nonstop work and and and your wife -- to you and your children. Have to figure out where -- gonna sleep right. How -- you managed to achieve. Well you know the first couple three nights we basically my office was our home. In my wife and kids stayed in there with me. You know it's not a big office -- maybe fifteen by fifteen and you know the four of us were sleeping and basically using that as our home. You know -- after after about the third or fourth day you know they moved to be with my sister -- live in her basement. For about another week and you know looking one of the county commissioners had a duplex that came open and available and and you know we are able to move -- it. You know basically -- place that you know somewhere that we can we -- live. My daughter keeps telling me shows this is not home this is not home. And you know its its most things that. You know it's going home of my idea might keep kids -- known -- is that the house that we lived in and you know we've been basically lived there since they were born and -- so they don't know anything else so and you know that's why she was saying that and He was very much the same with the with the my my cruises well that -- lost their home. Yeah both of moved in there for you know some some time and and you know they all had families to look after children to look after as well and so. You know after that first initial twelve hours or so you know my first concern was to get them out of here. And get -- home to take care. You know those personal issues. And and we did that the next more. They had all reported the worker they -- -- network reported the worked out with the general call him. But that next morning once we got through that first pollution got you know the surface rescues and those types of things that I got the matter here's what particular their -- life and get. You know get their loved ones taking care of. With a 153. Dead and thousands injured. How. It how are your men and women do measured -- did you do anything special screening counseling or. As just using the churches and you get thing. We've must've known dozens of those good -- is their neighbors and their cousins and relatives of the union. You know we kind of used a variety of different methods for for the cruise. You you know -- we've had does some actual. My I think those were were attended by a few. You know most of sought their own. Either counseling or -- Or you -- briefings through their own churches. What's that. Dolphins -- very religious community -- so everybody I think everybody's but that's important. And I think if that's important point -- It's it's amazing how important faces in in disasters and how important cases I think to the fire service as a whole to people who do. Thank -- city manager to see that. Amount of -- people who half hour earlier -- we're hopeful literature and who -- store. Can -- Sunday dinner. It dead and gone as -- whole family's in some cases. Lost and then that some of the folks literally lost just. It's gobbled up by this horrible. Act of nature in. Gone. You have to. You have to believe -- more than just. The temporal you have to have faith. You probably more than yourself I mean -- sure. You know I think that's what's kept kept our department going in and -- to be overly -- I am overly I'm very religious you know. Many firefighters are. And I think it helps and helping in my career and I think that living in place which often work -- you do have plenty of pastors and and and and reverence and pretty soon. -- as you can talk to right and those people are tree now. And I agree you know -- I think it's it's about being more than just. You it's more it's more than about the individual. And -- survivor skills. Exactly you -- your home is a block off the path of the tornado and -- fine. And folk -- known for your whole life Google -- In the it you know sort I think it does it's got to help and I -- you know. I think that you know -- majority of them the firefighters here or. You know very very religious and in nature and I think it does give them strength. To move on through these things. I think it's important I hope the folks listening young people running academies and that's the emotion covered it and and not promote. Episcopalians Methodists or Catholics or -- opportunity but from -- effect is telling him you know if -- if you have faith. And alternative if you don't take a look at and it's something believe in something. Even if you will go to unitarian church -- -- every would have you believe in something greater than yours off. Absolutely and I you know and I think that you know anyone in the first service or public service needs -- remember that it's it's more than just about the individual it's not about me. It's about the community it's about them the bigger picture. You know it's about you know what we can do for others and I think that that religious belief and religious. Feeling plays into that very well and and it's about service and you know when when you talk. You know to any of the major religions as you say you know whether you know the you know regardless which were. You're individual belief is no it's all about service person in about about sex self sacrifice and I mean if there's anything that that says the fire service. That's it. That's the commitment media -- Paper -- -- country FO right now that a faith and that's infinite scroll bars -- sort through its impact -- person's so how is it's it's now four weeks. Going -- five the -- 44 -- How is Joplin right now and what's three -- what do you predict the recovery. It along do you think the recovery is going to go in and what's the plans for The -- you are part of your organization well you know I think if you look out through the of the commune. The you know there's still a huge amount of volunteers coming in and and -- in hand and you still see neighbors helping neighbors and I think it's just fantastic to see. You you know it if you look at the amount of destruction and the devastation. You know I don't think you can look at it and say you know -- and six months were going to be fine. I think everybody knows that's not gonna be the case it's -- be a twenty year plan -- Exactly and and you know that's early on you know had some folks asking about. And what -- can do about replacing fire stations and fire trucks and in those types of things that. He you know and I believe this you know. Not only for the park service you know for what -- deciding with -- -- service and but it's what the city manager in the council and our planners are deciding about community. We're not affecting this year or next year or you know the next several months. You know I'm looking fifteen years into the future we're going need to be -- -- department and you know what or the pieces of apparatus we're gonna need in the future. -- you know because we have this. What's been a horrible that we have this opportunity to. You know misplaced fire stations if we have a fire station to duplication and can be moved into a better -- to serve community better. Now's the time. You know if we're looking at that switching to a different type of vehicle -- different capabilities once in balanced on. You have discretionary time now out of make decisions based on long range planning where exactly some sometimes as a city grows assist. -- stations seem like a good idea. In 1960 button right in 2010. Not such a good idea right either it is demographics that work out the way they had predicted or -- you have an opportunity to move some equipment that's appropriate to do so. Right in the and that's what we're looking at now for the fire department is we're looking at you know where where the city is projected to grow where where we're headed where we have grown. Since the you know since these stations were -- -- -- built in and put in place so we you know we are look you know we are taking at all in consideration. You I think the other thing you know the city right now has a moratorium on residential construction. And once again it's to look at those issues you know. Do we wanna build everything back to 1940 standard -- and I think that you know the first. The first reaction of her body is what we need to be rebuilding in and I don't disagree. But we need to do this more and we needed to have with some thought -- in some planning. And I don't think anyone would want us just to go back and put back exactly what was they're. You I think they would want us to to look at improvements and and you know to consider you know. You know that. Basically the future and in the next fifty to a hundred years were planning neighborhoods and and facilities and public services. -- we can't just turn turn a blind eye to the future because. Before we know what that future will be. I disagree with and this is a great place to let this is an incredible part of the of the United States if you haven't been into the the justices western and southwestern Missouri this is gorgeous country down a breathtaking country yet what is. What it what does the Joplin four apartment even if people wanna do things for an era and people keep talking about this what -- -- -- What is -- really need what is the job before are really. What you know how at what would help -- that. If you don't right now we're. We're still working on the insurance settlements and those types of things from that destroyed stations and and the apparatus and those types of things and so. You know we do we currently have about -- homeowners stations that are going up right now by the Army Corps of Engineers that are being built as we speak and we hope to be occupying those by the end of the week you know we've got -- -- equipment from you know -- and -- Bauer and -- America our equipment here in the states and in that department conservationists hope -- but some vehicles. So right now where that goes work we're doing pretty well. You you know I think the thing that's gonna come out in in the future is going to be the overall cost of this this disaster. You know. They. You know billions of dollars is just one of those things and He said -- type -- up zeroes on a calculator that. You don't realize how much money that's nine zeroes that's the big money that's big money and you know just within the fire department by the time that we replace. You fire stations and fire apparatus and and -- that was lost and you know equipment. You know we're looking at at at you'll probably tens of millions of dollars. Just did what we lost in order to replace -- with the bases in today's value. So. You know some -- that's going to be covered by insurance but obviously not all of that some of it's going to be covered by -- -- -- -- obviously not all of it. You know most of our immediate needs are met but what we're gonna need for the for the future rebuilding is going to be. And I hate to sound bad about this denial and I feel guilty even seen it but it's gonna be. It's going to be cash it's going to be money. You know to pay for this new equipment the -- for -- difference. Blizzard is there's somewhere where people can go online and salute -- wanna make a donation to for the job of our farmers -- -- set up like achieve what they sued the city jail yet the city does have a couple of funds that that I don't think there's a -- -- specific one wants -- because the way we're set you know -- York -- over it all goes into. The general on general than. -- and in all that. -- -- did and the other is one -- -- before we we were good because we correct on that our national report from news to. -- well intentioned but we don't you -- those of clothes we don't need. You know what what people wanted to give away -- right we need cash. Right and that's gonna sustained drop them in the future. Yep yep most of those immediate needs were we're -- very quickly within the first. You know week or so oh win and does so so we'll put that out of it and we'll look at -- build out into the presentation which for the people know in the beginning in -- -- how they can. Contribute to support her so you you're doing okay. I'm -- you know we're. We're trying I mean you know obviously. You know what they only hire -- couple weeks behind the curve is. You know because of the -- the workload that was -- in the first couple three weeks and so. We're catchup mode were still wore sorting through what we were able to salvaged from Allison I say we. My wife and kids were able to salvage with the help my folks and and you know my Brothers and sisters and in. You know several of the union members from around there the region came in to help us. You know I I have to admit I salvaged very little from my house. You know these folks who came in did that for -- so. You know. You want -- that's kind of where we are. Who were waiting on some insurance settlements and in those types of things once again. You're trying to get our lives coming back on track and and back to normal you know I guess Michael -- on a personal levels to -- and give my daughter please call home. Well we hope you -- that real soon we will want to thank you for taking time to sit -- this today and allows -- access to your staff and -- we know that you've got much better things to do than to sit and talk with us but we thought was important for you to get you -- Story out of the fire service so people could hear. What it's like and and how important it is -- to train to be prepared. To lead well. And and to be ready all over the country right now -- is that the floods open. -- my note moved horrible -- lost almost again every hit again with a terrible. I was there the first lost almost are now the second -- coming. It's so you never know what and and being prepared is not just. Amano the American Forest Service -- going to be Credo what's going to be and something we live and live -- and live up to and niche. Certainly. You in your organization exceeded anyone's expectations in terms of excellence and dedication and preparedness and it came through and -- level of professionalism that you and your troops showed us. Just amazing and you know our hearts broke when we saw the damage. And they're still breaking America's. Americans were just devastated to see such a beautiful community take such a dramatic hit. We were also heartened to see that. True American values came and and you guys and gals really. Set -- bar. For the rest of the nation and we thank you for that I think if there's anything we can do for you and any time please don't hesitate to call. And.