Joplin city officials make announcement regarding the 2011 disaster recovery

JOPLIN, Mo. – Joplin’s Finance Director shares an announcement that is big news for the city, the school district and residents.

It’s been nearly nine years since the tornado tore through the city…leaving an unprecedented path of destruction, and leaving many wondering, where do we go from here?

The city found it’s way and now, all this time later, it’s time to officially close that chapter. $2 billion in damages, nearly 9,000 homes, and more than 2,000 commercial properties destroyed. If you look hard enough, you can still see some scars of that damage. But now, the city is closing the recovery chapter for good. Leslie Haase “It feels really good.”

Finance Director Leslie Haase says she’s proud of her department and their hard work. “In the finance department we’ve been tracking these expenses, these reimbursements for the last eight and a half years, on top of the normal work that we do.”

She says she’s had other communities contacting her looking for ways to prepare for a disaster. “I always kinda chuckle and say, that’s a good question, and I don’t know if I ever really had good answers, but there are definitely some things I’ve learned through this process to do to help make sure everything is accounted for and handled property.”

Leslie says in the end, it’s the people of Joplin, and the 102,000 volunteers with more than 600,000 volunteer hours, that truly made the difference. “There just really aren’t words that are adequate to describe…all the feelings.”

You may remember on March 19th of last year, we spoke with Leslie and she said the Recovery TIF, the largest in the state of Missouri, would be paying off 13 years early, on October 1st. She told us tonight, she got a call last Friday, and the final payment will instead be made on April 1st.

She says that just opens the door earlier for millions of dollars of tax revenues and franchise fees to start flowing back to the taxing jurisdictions, which, among others, include of course the city, the Joplin School District, and Jasper County.