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15 June 2011

Kraus: Joplin’s Long Road to Recovery

Last Saturday, June 11, I was honored to lead a team of dedicated volunteers from the 8th District to Joplin to help in their recovery effort. When we first sent a request for volunteers a few weeks ago, I expected to have a car or two. In the end, over 25 people went to Joplin to lend a hand.

Working in conjunction with College Heights Christian Church, our group managed a variety of tasks. College Heights is managing a distribution center for donations, so much of our group worked there.

From driving a forklift, and driving a truck to pick up and drop off pallets at local warehouses, to sorting items, and acting as personal shoppers for residents in need, our volunteers served dozens of families representing hundreds of displaced Joplin residents. The group also helped make and serve lunch to all the volunteers at the church campus, and delivered the same lunches to volunteers in the field.

Another group went to an address of a home provided to us and began cleaning up the yard. Nothing was left but a foundation and a yard full of debris of all kinds. It was hard to know where to start. But we divided up areas, dug in, and our work made a definite difference.

At the end of the day, those who remained took a driving tour of the devastated areas. We were warned that what we would see was more than could ever be conveyed in pictures or video. The warning was right. The utter destruction, and the lack of sense of what was destroyed and what was left standing in some areas, was hard to fathom, even in person.

Before we left, we ate at a restaurant literally three blocks from the damaged Home Depot and Wal-Mart. Three blocks separated from total destruction and death, the restaurant was intact and crowded with life. There are such signs of recovery all around, but the images that remain are still those of the damage done.

Missourians have stepped up in so many ways to help. Whether via donations to churches, the Red Cross, or other groups helping on the ground, or by volunteering time, Missouri has done its part to help. I hope each of you can find some way to reach out to Joplin. We are planning one more trip later this summer, and would love to have you join us.

Back in the District

We have settled into our interim schedule pretty well. Both my Chief of Staff and I are in the 8th District meeting with residents and businesses and working on projects for next session. If you would like to meet with us, please send us an e-mail or call the office. Our contact information is at the bottom of this newsletter.

Last week, we presented a proclamation to the John Knox Village emergency team who responded to Joplin and spent days down there handing emergencies. They are representative of so many different groups that have helped.

We also attended a briefing by the Kansas City Economic Development Council. Retaining jobs and growing business in the region is high on my list, so this was a valuable visit.

Coming Up

Don’t forget our town hall meetings coming up in July. I would love to see large crowds at each of them and hear your feedback and ideas.

Lee’s Summit

On Monday, July 25, I will be hosting a town hall meeting in Lee’s Summit. Representatives Jeff Grisamore (House District 47), Mike Cierpiot (House District 56), and Gary Cross (House District 48) also plan to be in attendance, so it is a great chance for you to talk with your state elected officials. We will be there to discuss this year’s legislative session and to answer any questions that you might have about state government. It will be held at Lee’s Summit City Hall in the City Council Chambers, located at 220 SE Green, from 6:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. I hope to see you there!

Blue Springs

On Tuesday, July 26, Rep. Sheila Solon and I will be hosting a town hall meeting in Blue Springs. It will present several opportunities for you to meet with your elected officials from the Blue Springs area. From 6:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., Rep. Sheila Solon (House District 55) and I will be available to discuss this past legislative session and to address any questions that you might have about state government. In addition, Blue Springs City Council members Ron Fowler and Grant Bowerman will be available to answer questions about local government. It will be held at Moreland Ridge Middle School, 9000 SW Bishop Drive. I would enjoy seeing you there!

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