Columbia Volunteers Spend Weekend in Joplin

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JOPLIN - Disagreement over the 2011-2012 fiscal budget between Democrats and Republicans continued on Monday leaving funding for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) in the midst of the debate.

Meanwhile, disaster-stricken areas like Joplin that normally receive funding from FEMA have been forced to rely on other sources to get their city back up and running. 

"The role of volunteer agencies has played a big part in the support of Joplin," said Crystal Patyon, a representative from FEMA external affairs. 

Local volunteers and groups from out of town have continued to provide assistance to the city months after the tornado. 

Columbia students from Delta Sigma Theta and the Legion of Black Collegians made their way to Joplin to volunteer on Saturday. 

"I lost my house to an explosion when I was twelve. I know what it's like to be without a home," volunteer Lawrence Waller said. 

"Joplin still needs our help and we want them to know even when they aren't still in the spotlight, we will still be here to help," volunteer Maikieta Brantley said. 

Residents like Chuck Dudley appreciated the dedication volunteers have shown.  Dudley's parents' home of 35 years was destroyed by the tornado. 

"The house has got a lot of memories and we want to try to keep it around," Dudley said. 

With the help of volunteer groups, churches, friends and contractors, the Dudley's will see their home restored in about five months. 

"Volunteers continue to pour in doing individual work on homes and also working with demolition crews to take down house," Payton said. 

Organizations like AmeriCorps help organize volunteer groups looking to serve in Joplin. 

Kayla Potter, a member of AmericCorps St. Louis, said volunteers have still been signing up to volunteer on a regular basis. 

Even with funding from FEMA still up in the air, Joplin is eligible to receive grants for each hour volunteers log. 

It is unclear when an agreement will be made regarding the FEMA budget, but residents said they know things will continue to get better. 

Following the tornado, 10,700 residents registered with FEMA for assistance. More than $19 million has been approved.