Five days after an F5 tornado destroyed the town of Joplin, Mo., 40 once-missing members from Local 823 in Joplin have been accounted for. The news is a ray of hope in an otherwise disastrous situation.
The tornado, which cut a 10-mile path through the city, has claimed the lives of 126 victims, including LeBarge Inc. employee and Local 823 member Heather Leigh Terry. Funeral services for Terry have not yet been scheduled.
“This is a bittersweet moment,” said Jim Hoffa, Teamsters General President. “We mourn the loss of sister Heather Leigh Terry, but are thankful that these 40 members have been found alive. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the Terry family and to all victims affected by this terrible disaster.”
Local 823 members have been volunteering their time to set up and run warehousing facilities being used to accept and distribute supplies to tornado victims. Tractor trailers and drivers from Joint Councils 13 and 56 are also assisting in recovery efforts.
Members from other locals, including Local 618 in St. Louis and Local 245 in Springfield, Mo., are expected to assist with the recovery in coming days.
“Teamsters are the front line of the recovery effort,” said Roy Gillespie, HRC Commissioner and member of Joint Council 13. “We are doing what we can to help and offer support to members of Local 832 and the surrounding community.
“These people have nothing. Imagine what a nuclear explosion looks like. There’s nothing left in some neighborhoods."
Donations have been pouring in from members, locals and Joint Councils across the country, but more is needed. Those willing to volunteer are being asked to contact Rod Taylor, President of Local 832 at (417) 623-0640. Monetary donations can be made through the Teamsters Disaster Relief Fund.