Napolitano, Nixon thank Joplin cops

JOPLIN (AP) — The federal government’s head of homeland security joined Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon on Thursday to thank the thousands of police officers, firefighters and rescuers in the Joplin tornado.

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and Nixon visited the destroyed St. John’s hospital and some Joplin areas hit hardest by the May 22 tornado. They also met with law enforcement officers, ambulance workers and others at Joplin’s emergency operations center.

“The Obama administration remains dedicated to helping Joplin and communities throughout Missouri as we work together in our recovery efforts to become stronger and more resilient than ever before,” Napolitano said in a written statement. “We will not leave until the job is finished.”

The tornado’s victims include a Riverside policeman hit by lightning while helping with the recovery. Thirty-one-year-old Jeff Taylor was injured the day after the tornado and died in the hospital June 3.

“Certain, special individuals take an oath to serve their neighbors by heading into disasters — not away from them,” Nixon said. “Master patrolman Taylor was one of those individuals. As we honor his dedication and sacrifice, we thank all of those who devote their lives to serving others through law enforcement and public safety.”

Workers from more than 400 agencies responded to Joplin, aided by more than 15,000 volunteers, the governor said.

“In the wake of this natural disaster, Missourians have come together with a spirit of faith, resilience and resolve,” Nixon said.

With thousands of homes and businesses destroyed and a rebuilding effort that could take years, city officials are also discussing stronger local building codes. The Joplin City Council gave preliminary approval Tuesday night to require metal reinforcing straps, also known as hurricane clips, on stick-frame roofs.

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