(click on the video to see the amazing before and after video of the debris removal.)
We were aboard Freeman's Eagle Med helicopter, following the exact path of the tornado the night of May 22nd.
Colonel Daniel Patton is in charge of the Army Corps of Engineer office in Joplin. He says his teams arrived moments after the storm and he says the initial estimates were grim. "We were originally looking at 3,000 to 4,000 private residences to clear." The Corps was tasked with clearing 1.5 million yards of debris, all within 78 days. "Completed 1.4 million cubic yards of debris removal. From the right of way and private properties." Patton says. "That includes 1,500"
Patton says the crews, contractors, and volunteers worked 12 hours a day, 7 days a week. He calls the progress made in such a short time amazing. Patton says, "We're probably down to about 5 properties remaining that haven't been touched. And less than 100 that are substantially clean meaning they only have small amounts of debris on them.. "
Corps officials say there mission isn't over once the debris is cleared. Their focus will turn to rebuilding damaged schools, and constructing temporary housing for displaced residents.