A tornado that tore through Joplin, Missouri, destroyed part of the town and left 89 people dead this past Sunday, just a month after more than 300 people were killed across the South in natural disasters last month. While all 20 of the area's sirens sounded during the emergency, people had only 20 minutes to gather their belongings and find safety.
While President Obama is currently abroad, he called the governor of Missouri to convey his condolences and has been closely monitoring the response to the damage in Joplin, from his his hotel room and while on Air Force One, according to USA Today.
"The President has directed FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate to travel to Missouri to ensure the state has all the support it needs," stated White House spokesperson Nick Shaprio. "In addition, in anticipation of requests for assistance, a FEMA Incident Management Assistance Team (IMAT) is en route to Joplin. This self-sustaining team will work with FEMA officials already in Missouri to coordinate with state and local officials to identify needs and any shortfalls impacting disaster response and recovery."
Rescue workers have already been scouring the rubble for survivors and listening for calls for help, ABC News reports. Officials estimate that up to 30 percent of Joplin was affected by the tornado, with many homes, commercial buildings and cars completely destroyed.
Some authorities fear that the impact to the town's infrastructure could trigger dangerous gas explosions.
"These storms have caused extensive damage across Missouri, and they continue to pose significant risk to lives and property," governor Jay Nixon said, according to the news source. "As a state, we are deploying every agency and resource available to keep Missouri families safe, search for the missing, provide emergency medical care, and begin to recover."