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Salvation Army is saving money for "long term" Joplin recovery; - KOAM TV 7

Salvation Army is saving money for "long term" Joplin recovery; says there were enough "short term" recovery organizations

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There's growing frustration by many Four Staters, and people across the nation, over why money they donated to the Salvation Army for Joplin recovery has not yet been used.  The Salvation Army gave us an explanation.  But many people still tell us, the damage has already been done.

At issue is accountability and trust.

"I have donated to the Salvation Army, in their pots when I go in and out of places.  But I'm not going to do that until that situation changes," says Joplin area resident Jim Tate.

Here's how the situation stands right now.  The Salvation Army collected $5.5 million in donations shortly after the Joplin tornado.  To this day, $2 million have been spent on Joplin recovery efforts, paying for things like meals and rental assistance programs.  

Joplin area resident Bob Gooch asks, "What are they doing with the balance?"

"I think there was a very strong presence of organizations in Joplin that have been earnest and have worked hard in addressing the housing needs after the tornado," says Major Phillip Aho with the Salvation Army Midland Division, which oversees Joplin's Salvation Army.

Because of that strong presence that has included a variety of organizations, Salvation Army officials say they didn't feel the need to focus the majority of donated money on short term recovery efforts.  Instead, Salvation Army officials say they wanted to use the money for a building project, partnering with Joplin's master redeveloper.  That proposal fell threw.

"We felt that it would not allow us to fully meet the intention of the donors who had given for those who had been affected by the tornado," says Major Aho.

So the Salvation Army says things are back to square one, analyzing needs.

"There's a great need for repairs.  There may have been repairs done immediately after the tornado that were substandard," says Major Aho.

In the meantime, there's a difference of opinion over "needs", and the urgency to address them.

"If they've got the money, then they ought to put it to use," says Gooch.

Reports also show part of what the Salvation Army has spent so far includes $38,000 for salaries, $4,700 for employee medical insurance, and $15,000 for uniforms.  The Salvation Army says these are all expenses incurred from offering Joplin disaster relief.

The Salvation Army and Joplin's Habitat For Humanity are working on a partnership that would include using donated money from the Salvation Army to build new homes in the Four State area.  

To hear our full interview with the Salvation army, click on the associated video.  Note:  Questions asked over our phone recorder system are not able to be recorded, so there will be blank audio in between answers.

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