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A giant crane demolishes the ruins of a tornado-damaged medical building in Joplin.

CNHI News Service

Cleanup crews have completed the task of removing thousands of tons of loose debris left by the tornado that destroyed one-third of this city two months ago, meeting a federal deadline for 90 percent funding.

They are now moving on to the job of demolishing those damaged structures that remained standing despite the twister's 200 mph winds.

City Manager Mark Rohr described the rubble-clearing task as "monumental" and said it took a huge effort by volunteers and contractors to get the job done.

He said it was important to get loose debris out of the way by last Sunday because that's when the federal funding for the cleanup dropped from 90 percent to 75 percent.

Meanwhile, the families displaced by the tornado began moving into new mobile homes provided by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

A special FEMA mobile home park was built across from the Joplin Regional Airport to temporarily accommodate 346 families.

Amber Flowers and her three daughters were among 36 families that moved in over last weekend.

"They've done a really nice thing here," said Flowers, who survived the tornado by taking shelter in a grocery store cooler. Her mother and daughters rode out the storm in a closet at an apartment complex.

Kay and Mike Johnson were "thrilled" with their new FEMA mobile home. They hope to get to know ther neighbors quickly.

"We're a community," said Kay Johnson.

In another tornado-related development, the United Arab Emirates embassy in Washington, D. C., pledged to give up to $1 million to help equip high school students in Joplin with new laptop computers to aid their studies.

The pledge includes $500,000 outright to the Joplin School District for Apple notebooks and up to $500,000 in matching funds for related digital needs.

Joplin High School was among the buildings destroyed by the May 22 tornado that killed 160 people. Juniors and seniors will attend school in a converted box store this fall; freshman and sophomore classes will be held in an alternate school building.

"When we saw the devastation that took place, the ambassador decided that we needed to do something as a country," said Dana al Marashi, a spokesman for the United Arab Emirates embassy.

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