Nightly News   |  May 31, 2011

Displaced seek housing near storm-battered Joplin

As officials calculate how many thousands of families lost their homes to the deadly tornado that tore through the city, some residents are seeking shelter as far as 30 miles away while they sort out how to begin the process of rebuilding. NBC's Ron Allen reports.

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>>> it's now been nine days since that tornado of historic strength hit joplin , missouri. and in addition to the hundreds of buildings and schools that were wiped out and the town hospital, we now know some 8,000 dwellings, homes and apartments, were also damaged or destroyed. that means a lot of folks tonight are still looking for a home . nbc's ron allen is in joplin again for us tonight.

>> reporter: after a sixth and final search of these decimated neighborhoods, officials say their rescue efforts will cease. the death toll has settled around 140. one huge challenge survivors now face, putting roofs back over their heads.

>> it's so hard. i mean, we're just trying to get through the physical and emotional part of it. but --

>> reporter: tina dudley lost the home she rented, one of about 8,000 buildings destroyed in the storm. in a dense residential area. they're still counting how many thousands of families need homes. dudley says the only available places she's found are 30 miles away .

>> we need housing, but we've also lost our cars to get to our jobs. so we kind of need to stay close .

>> reporter: fema is looking for houses within 50 miles. and neighbors bringing in those temporary trailers used in places like new orleans after katrina.

>> we want to work hard along with the city to enable people to stay as close to the city of joplin and duquesne as possible.

>> reporter: meanwhile, joplin lifts itself from the debris. with every means possible. even an elephant from a circus that happened to be in town. there's progress. the main hospital back open. now a 60-bed mobile clinic. the heavily damaged home depot sells supplies in the parking lot while it builds a new store. joplin 's high school has become a place of hope.

>> we lost a home. we lost our cars. we lost everything. but the business is what we're after first.

>> reporter: like so many here, the habidi brothers, repairing their battered family restaurant, can see a much better day .

>> we just want to be part of this again. we can do it, and we're looking for a grand reopening soon.

>> reporter: however, there's still devastation as far as the eye can see here. and they're planning to start trying to haul some of this away xwining later this week. brian?

>> ron allen in joplin tonight. we're thinking about them every day. ron, thanks.