Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano today joined U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Deputy Administrator Rich Serino in Joplin, Mo. to survey recovery efforts and meet with state, local and community officials following the May 2011 tornado that struck the region.
"Joplin has demonstrated the importance of engaging the entire community in responding to and recovering from disasters," said Secretary Napolitano. "DHS will continue working side by side with state, local and community leaders to support ongoing recovery efforts. Our thoughts remain with everyone in this community and across the state who has been impacted by this terrible disaster."
During their visit, Secretaries Napolitano and Duncan and FEMA Deputy Administrator Serino joined Joplin Public Schools Superintendent C.J. Huff and Joplin City Manager Mark Rohr on a tour of Joplin High School, which was damaged during the May tornadoes. They also visited the temporary high school set up by the Joplin public school system.
"In the midst of rebuilding their own lives, the Joplin community came together to ensure that every student could return to school on the first day of class, and more importantly, feel safe," said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. "Their efforts to unite in a time of great tragedy have been an example to the nation, showing all of us that when community members come together, great things happen."
Following their tour, Secretaries Napolitano and Duncan and Deputy Administrator Serino participated in roundtable discussions with Joplin area students as well as state, local and community leaders and Joplin residents to highlight the recovery efforts underway and continued commitment of the federal government to support recovery efforts in the region.
"What the Joplin community has accomplished over the past few months has been nothing short of extraordinary," said FEMA's Deputy Administrator Rich Serino. "Joplin is leading by example and proving that when the entire community comes together to work on recovery efforts, including educators, non-profits and volunteer groups, the private sector and countless others, rebuilding happens more quickly and effectively. FEMA will continue to work hand in hand with all of our partners here to support this community as they continue to bounce back."
Since the storms first hit Joplin, the Obama administration has been deeply involved in response and recovery efforts. The day after the tornadoes struck the region, FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate and Deputy Administrator Serino were on the ground surveying damage and coordinating federal response and relief efforts. In the following weeks, President Obama, Secretary Napolitano, DHS Deputy Secretary Jane Holl Lute and other DHS officials traveled to the region to meet with state, local and community officials and first responders on the ground.