Tri-State Residents Aid Ongoing Relief Efforts in Tornado-Torn Missouri Town

Melinda Clark from the Illinois/Wisconsin search and rescue team uses her dog to search for possible victims of the tornado that hit Joplin, Mo.

Local volunteers continue the response effort in the nation's heartland nearly a week after one of the worst tornadoes on record ripped through Joplin, Missouri, killing more than 130 people and injuring hundreds of others.

Jessica Ginger, with the emergency response group AmeriCares in Stamford, Conn., arrived in the tornado-torn town of Joplin on Tuesday.

"Block by block went by," said Ginger, who is in touch with Connecticut headquarters to coordinate medical donations. "It slowly went from full homes, to half homes, to complete devastation and it was just filled of rubble and absolutely gut-wrenching."

Ella Gudwin, who is at the AmeriCares headquarters in Connecticut, said many people who lost their jobs worked at the heavily-damaged St. John's Hospital. Now, they are working at an emergency makeshift medical center.

"The most people who lost their jobs are physicians and nurses that were employed by St. John's," Gudwin said. "That's an interesting dynamic to listen to because those are the same people who are working these centers, knowing that they don't have an immediate job to return to."

Local volunteers are also spearheading their own campaigns.

Susan Combs, a member of University of Missouri's New York Metropolitan alumni chapter, tapped into social networks and called the Red Cross near Joplin.

"They said, 'You know, look, we're overwhelmed with donations right now. We're overwhelmed with volunteers. But the things that we really need are the toiletries and feminine products and diapers for babies and things like that,'" she said.

Combs said she plans to keep in touch with social networks and relief organizations to monitor Joplin's ongoing needs. University of Missouri alum also stress the importance of continuing the campaign to help rebuild in the months to come.