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Death toll climbs to 151; state reps tour damage - KOAM TV 7

Death toll climbs to 151; state reps tour damage

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The death toll climbs to 151, and The Jasper County coroner tells us the death toll has climbed to 151 as more patients have died in hospitals.  This news comes the same day nearly 40 state lawmakers came to Joplin on to tour the tornado damage.

Many of the nearly 40 representatives and their legislative assistants were seeing the damage for the first time as their tour bus made stops across the city.

Representatives Bill White wanted them to see the devastation in ways pictures can't show.

The lawmakers boarded buses at Missouri Southern, many of them taking their own photos as jaws dropped looking at damage.

They saw Duquesne homes down and stopped near the Walmart store on Rangeline.

Many say they are impressed by rebuilding that is already underway, but call the damage overwhelming, especially when the buses made the journey down 20th street, stopping again near the high school and then later at St. John's mobile field hospital.

By mid-day they donned gloves and got a feel for what sorting debris is like alongside Americorps volunteers.

"These folks in Joplin need our prayers, need our assistance, they're going to it for a long period of time," says Representative Darrell Pollock of Lebanon.  "(It was) good to be here to take a look at this first hand."

Representatives say a special disaster committee is forming to discuss funding for Joplin and flooded parts of the state.

"Obviously, Joplin, we need to give relief and we've got a pretty tight budget right now, we have some real deficits facing us (and) I think we really need to look at options to increase revenue because we have to take care of Joplin," says Representative Genise Montecillo of St. Louis.  "I'm concerned about the short term and the long term - this was a huge trauma."

Earlier Governor Jay Nixon said $50 million in state funding would be at Joplin's disposal.  But representatives today said it would take much more than that to help Joplin rebuild.

Now that they've seen it up close, more will be able to be a voice when local representatives keep asking for those dollars even years down the line.

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