Jefferson City officials say it's a long way back to normal

Crews working to clean up the city

City officials say its a long road to recovery in Jefferson City

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. - Officials in Jefferson City say rebuilding parts of the city damaged by a tornado will be a long road.

Building Regulation Division director Larry Burkhardt said the number of building permits property owners will seek as they rebuild is a moving target at this point. Right now his office is mainly receiving minor permits just to restore power to buildings, but Burkhardt said he expects there to be a large influx of larger building permits in about a month. 

Burkhardt said insurance companies first have to assess the damage before building owners will apply for the permits. He said it will take at least one or two years before all the buildings are rebuilt. 

The city is cleaning up after an EF-4 tornado packing winds of up to 160 mph tore through it late May 22. The same tornado had earlier hit Eldon as an EF-1, leaving several homes there damaged, and devastated the Heritage Highway area outside of Jefferson City. 

About 30 people were staying at a Red Cross shelter in Jefferson City as of Tuesday, officials said at a Cole County Commission meeting.

In addition to the tornado, major flooding on the Missouri River was straining infrastructure and covering some city roads. Floodwaters have also closed the city's airport.

Jefferson City Public Works operations director Britt Smith said the city has made great progress in tornado recovery already.

"I really don't have a way of quantifying in but I can tell you it's incredible the amount of progress we've been able to make due to the hard work of not only our city employees but many volunteers and the city of Columbia," Smith said Tuesday.

Cole County emergency management director Bill Farr said at the county commission meeting that the city and county public works departments had spent about $286,000 on tornado recovery as of last week.

Smith said crews are starting to pick up wind-blown debris, or objects from homes and other unnatural materials.

 "We do ask that people separate the vegetative, or limbs and brush, from the trash, so we can limit what's going into the landfill," Smith said. 

Smith said there is a public spot to dump storm-related trash on North Shamrock Road in Jefferson City. 

Smith said it's hard to put a timeline on the cleanup, "Fortunately, as the weekends come up, many volunteers come out and more stuff gets pulled out to the curb, and we are able to haul that off," Smith said.

Smith said there are still donation drop-off spots and volunteer opportunities. "There's lots of things people can do to help." 

Click here for more information on how to donate to the recovery.

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