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Joplin expects to break even on tornado costs: official

KANSAS CITY, Mo (Reuters) - The city of Joplin, Missouri, expects to break even financially from last spring's devastating tornado thanks to insurance and aid money, despite suffering about $24 million in losses, an official said on Tuesday.

The EF-5 tornado in May 2011 took 161 lives and destroyed some 8,000 homes and other buildings in the city of 50,000 people in southwest Missouri.

The twister also destroyed two fire stations, two fire trucks, some police cars, two parks and other property. But City Finance Director Leslie Jones said insurance and aid from the federal and state government enabled the city to avoid tornado debt that had been feared for months.

"I have been very worried, but these estimates look good at this point," Jones said.

Jones said the city was projected to have $130,000 left over after insurance settlements and other reimbursements, although that does not take into account fuel costs. After that is calculated, there may be little if any money left over, she said.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency and the state of Missouri covered about $94 million in debris removal costs, Jones said. Nearly 90 percent of that came from the federal sources, she said.

(Reporting By Kevin Murphy; Editing by Cynthia Johnston)

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