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14 July 2011

Davis: Visit To Big Lake and Missouri "Ocean"

At left: Rush Limbaugh at our 4th of July Celebration. Like him or not, he was such an encouragement to the people in Joplin.

“I don’t know why people say I’m not supposed to be doing what I’m doing. I’m just trying to do my job. I’m blessed, and I’m glad that I’m blessed.” –Albert Pujols

I just want to start this report with a heartfelt thank you to everyone who has been praying and working hard for those in the cities of Joplin and Duquesne. Bill White’s and my districts have suffered great losses but it is amazing what has happened in the past month and a half. We have seen about half the debris removed from our area during this time. Businesses are rebuilding, homes are starting to be built or repaired, and the spirits of our citizens are so amazing. No one has seen this amount of destruction and loss yet the great people of the 128th an 129th districts are such an encouragement to me. I have not seen a single person on the street corner waiting for FEMA to give them a hand out, they are simply doing what Missourians do best, work hard and help your neighbors. There are literally thousands of stories of survival that it simply thrills my soul to hear each one of them.

At left: I-29 under water preventing northbound traffic from getting to Nebraska.

I must say thank you to all the legislators that have come and helped in the cleanup process as well as their families, staffs and friends. Representative Tim Wesco from the 21st district in the Indiana House of Representatives came all the way to help with Paul Meinsen and the Capitol Commission Bible Study group. The outpouring of support from the general assembly has been remarkable and I must say how much I appreciate all the caring shared with us.

At right: Big Lake completely under water.

It has been a long hard process over the past 60 days but a very successful and profitable one. The superintendants from our area have done a remarkable job getting ready for school to start on August 17th. Joplin superintendant CJ Huff, the Joplin school board and administration staff have done a stellar job preparing for the new school year. With as many as 6 of our 11 schools totally destroyed, it has been a challenge organizing for the placement of each class but they have done it. Our several school districts will be having early enrolment in order to get an idea of what the class sizes will look like. Residents of about 7000 homes have been displaced and we are not sure where all the students are. It will be a challenge to get everything organized but I have faith in our school leadership and I know all will be fine. Our local schools will have a drastic cut in funding over the next few years. With the 8000 structures destroyed and the property tax on most of those structures gone, Joplin schools will lose many millions of dollars in tax revenue. Also, with over 450 businesses destroyed, sales tax revenue will be much lower until we can get the businesses rebuilt. Property tax revenue loss, sales tax revenue loss and just the sheer cost of the cleanup will pose a challenge to our state.

At right: Big Lake homes, all under water.

The Disaster Recovery Committee has met several times over the past month and we have learned so much. The tornadoes in Joplin, St. Louis and Sedalia as well as the floods in Sikeston and NW Missouri have pose a great challenge on the state but I have faith in our elected officials to be able to solve the challenged due to these disasters.

Bill White, Shane Schoeler, Mike Thompson and I got the opportunity to visit Mike’s district in northwest Missouri this past week. We flew in a Highway Patrol plane to see the damage from the air, the only real way to get a grasp of the scope of damage. It was heart wrenching. The Missouri River looks more like the Missouri Ocean. We then took a water patrol boat out into the river and got a close up look at the number of houses destroyed. Hundreds of homes destroyed and about a half million acres of Missouri’s best farm land under water. We were told that $253 million dollars in crops will not make it to market this year. That is devastating. While preparing to leave, Bill and I stopped at a gas station off of I-29 to get a drink. There was literally 1 jar of peanut butter on the shelf with no breads or other food. There are many businesses that will simply die because there are no customers. A local Subway and McDonalds right on I-29 simply do not have any passersby to buy their food. It will be next to impossible for them to stay in business for much longer.

It will be a long time before we are back to normal. But every day gets us closer to that normality. I hope my next capitol report will be more geared toward legislation and what we will be working on next year.

Please continue to pray for our state. We are Missourians and we are a strong people. We will make it through these tough times…..with the help of God, family and friends.

These are possibly the 5 best sentences you'll ever read:
  1. You cannot legislate the poor into prosperity, by legislating the wealth out of prosperity.
  2. What one person receives without working for, another person must work for without receiving.
  3. The government cannot give to anybody anything that the government does not first take from somebody else.
  4. You cannot multiply wealth by dividing it.
  5. When half of the people get the idea that they do not have to work because the other half is going to take care of them, and when the other half gets the idea that it does no good to work, because somebody else is going to get what they work for, that is the BEGINNING OF THE END of any nation.

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