JOPLIN, Mo. (AP) -- The state of Missouri opened a new facility in Joplin on Tuesday designed to give residents in the city struck by a deadly tornado last month one place to go for help with such things as temporary housing, unemployment assistance and replacement driver's licenses.
Gov. Jay Nixon signed an executive order establishing the state resource center and said recovery efforts in Joplin would help to make the city stronger.
"As a state, we are committed to rebuilding Joplin and helping this community move forward," Nixon said. "This Resource, Recovery and Rebuilding Center will be a one-stop shop for state assistance, information and support as we move forward."
The tornado that cut through Joplin on May 22 killed 141 people and demolished about one-third of the city while destroying more than 8,000 homes and 500 commercial buildings.
Numerous state agencies were to have a presence in the new recovery center. For example, the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education was to help with education issues, the state Department of Health and Senior Services was focused on disease prevention and the state insurance agency was there to handle insurance issues and complaints.
The Department of Mental Health planned to focus on grief counseling and mental health services, and the Department of Natural Resources was to address water, solid waste and other environmental issues.
Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster also moved to the new center an office that he initially opened at the American Red Cross shelter on the campus of Missouri Southern State University. The field office is investigating consumer fraud and advising residents facing deadlines for mortgage payments while waiting for insurance checks or for their employers to be back in business.
The center will be open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday. The acting director will be Kip Stetzler, who was the interim director of the Department of Natural Resources under Nixon.
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)