Whole lotta shaking going on Joplin way as the tornado ravaged burg preps for the first anniversary of last May’s disaster…
Recent national news has centered on the demolition of the stricken Saint John’s Mercy hospital. And naturally, the Star has milked its fair share of tear jerker survivor tales from the tragedy.
But it’s the news that’s not been covered…
Staring with an ongoing controversy over a proposed tourism map of Joplin’s tornado damage. Something critcs label as tacky and disrespectful, and it’s generating a second wave of controvery over its creation by the Joplin Convention & Visitors Bureau.
"The director of the Joplin Convention and Visitors Bureau said he is committed to providing a map of the tornado zone with information about key points despite more public controversy generated by it, this time by reports on The Weather Channel," reads yesterday’s report in the Joplin Globe. "Mayor Mike Woolston said Monday that the city does not intend to make money off ‘disaster tourism,’ but that it will not turn away anyone who wants to see the recovery effort “and celebrate the success with us.”
Locals who lost friends or relatives in the twister say cashing in on storm damage for tourism is bogus.
Even Weather Channel personality Mike Bettes "scolded" the CVB for capitalizing on the tragedy to attract tourism.
And while the CVB says they’re not looking for tornado tourism, "(CVB head Patrick Tuttle) said the map, which shows the entire tornado zone and marks the sites of St. John’s, Joplin High School, the ‘Extreme Makeover: Home Edition’ houses and others, was made because travelers were asking for directions to them," the Globe reports. "Visitors also were asking questions about the storm and its effects, he said. Details about the tornado and its impact are listed on the back of the map. Tuttle said the city wants to get out correct details so that volunteers and travelers are not misinformed."
How ugly are things? Very.
“Our Facebook is a tourism piece,” Tuttle told the Globe. “It’s not designed to be a hate page."
The map would be handed out by motels, restaurants and tourism centers to travelers who inquire about the storm and driections to the damage, Tuttle said.
Another pending controversy centers around the possible return of CNN anchor Anderson Cooper.
Seems some of the City Fathers are hoping Cooper won’t make the return trip for the anniversary later this year.
"They don’t want him back," says a source close to the situation. "For the first 24 or 36 hours he was down there after the storm he was great, they say. Then he did a 360 on the Joplin Morgue. He said they were doing some things atthe morgue that they shouldn’t have been doing."
The video of Cooper’s controversial report in question is headlined, "Joplin Morgue Slow to Identify Bodies."
After long and painful interviews with a teary father who’s son had died and another unhappy tornado victim, Cooper said: "What’s frustrating however to other families is that both found out about their kids unofficially and informally by back channels. Other families have said to us, if those kids were able to be identified, why can’t their families have someone visit the morgue and check for their loved ones…Some of the explanations for the delays and the red tape and the rules haven’t made much sense to people that are searching for their loved ones. And as we said, some people in Joplin continue to be very frustrated."
The heat rained down on Cooper from the get go with comments on CNN’s Web site ranging from, Clara Lauer‘s, "I saw your Morgue reporting last night, and was so angry I had to turn off your show. I watch your show almost every night because I think it is mostly unbiased and complete. However, in every natural disaster I find that you look for sensationalism angles and this episode last night was the worst so far. As a person with a medical background, although not in Pathology/Medical Examiner area, I can think of several reasons why there is such a delay" to somebody named Kim‘s," How exactly do you expect the morgue to let family members know? They don’t know who they are. This report sounds like it’s pointing some sort of blame on the morgue, and I think that’s unfair. I’m sure they’re a bit overwhelmed right now."
"Please, do not agitate this very grave and heartbreaking event," added J.A. Finch.
"I am curious to know if you expect the civilian authorities to allow hundreds of grief stricken relatives to wander through a room of unidentified body parts in order to calm every loved ones understandable desire to have an immediate answer when one is just not possible," said Richard Curl. "PLEASE stop the drama and just report the d*** news."
Eight months later the vitriol toward Cooper hasn’t gone away, sources say.