Some 50 employees from high-end motorhome builder Newell Coach Corp. today (May 27) were in Joplin in southwest Missouri carrying supplies and helping clean up following last Sunday’s tornado that ripped though the city of 50,000.
Newell, with headquarters in Miami, Okla., about 25 miles south of Joplin, sustained no damage during the horrific tornado that killed more than 130 people.
”Tornadoes can be amazingly surgical,” said Karl Blade, president of the 150-employee motorhome manufacturer that builds coaches retailing for $1.5 million and up.
Newell’s volunteers weren’t sure what they would be doing until after they arrived – or even if they would have cell phone service to provide communications.
”They ended up clearing debris,” Blade said. ”Many buildings in Joplin were destroyed to the foundation. But what do you do with all the scrap wood, metal and broken glass? And how do you pay for it? About 4,000 structures were destroyed. It’s a huge mess.”
Before leaving this morning, volunteers loaded a Newell coach with water, food, bread, light tools and chainsaw oil donated by the local Wal-Mart. ”It’s really been a community effort in Miami,” Blade said.