Joplin City Officials honor FEMA official - KOAM TV 7

Joplin City Officials honor FEMA official for outstanding recovery work


City leaders in Joplin say goodbye to a FEMA official who helped pave the way to recovery. The ceremony today honored the man who went above and beyond to not only provide FEMA assistance for the city, but also provided a source of comfort for those who struggled. FEMA Deputy Administrator Rich Serino reminisces as he visits Joplin one last time.

"Seeing the new energy efficiency, how the kids were happy in the school, coming to the firehouses here after seeing how the firehouses had been destroyed and how they're back operating energy efficient, and how it really is to watch the community grow - all different parts of it." Serino says.

He arrived in Joplin the morning of May 23rd, 2011 - armed with advice and tools for the community to recover and rebuild. 

"We were able to look at the whole community. How the schools were going to rebuild, businesses getting up, the homes rebuilding,  bringing together the community to help people." he says.

That effort has helped lead Joplin to where it is today.

"Negotiating some of the federal policies and rules is pretty difficult for responders and government, and his assistance here was invaluable to us." says Joplin Fire Chief, Mitch Randles.

The city honored Serino with a proclamation of the city for his help in paving the way to recovery.

"Words can't even begin...that's a huge thing for your city that somebody thinks of you that much and the things that you have done and how far a city has come...and he comes back here to see the progress we have made." says Joplin Mayor, Melodee Colbert-Kean.

But before he goes...he wanted to say one last goodbye to the town he deems "the golden way" for FEMA recovery.

"Working with the most important part of the team, and that's the survivors themselves and purposely use the term survivors, not victims. Victims are unfortunately the people we lost that day. Everybody else is a survivor. and they've truly survived." Serino says.

Serino's last day working with FEMA will be January 23rd.




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