Just a month ago, Todd Farley had lunch at a Chinese restaurant and dinner at a Pizza Hut in Joplin, Mo.

Just a month ago, Todd Farley had lunch at a Chinese restaurant and dinner at a Pizza Hut in Joplin, Mo.

He was there for a one-day emergency management class.

When he arrived Sunday night, he recognized little.

“I traveled up and down Main Street five times when I was there last,” Farley said. “I didn’t even recognize it. You can’t imagine the devastation. The media coverage has been very good, but you can’t comprehend it by what you see on television.”

Farley, assistant fire chief for the Central Jackson County Fire Protection District, and about 25 other rescue team members from CJC were deployed to the tornado-ravaged city, where on Sunday night a massive EF5 tornado, the strongest to strike the country in at least 60 years, killed 125 people and wounded hundreds. CJC is one of several departments that belong to the Kansas City Regional Heavy Rescue Team.

Arriving at about 1 a.m. Monday, Farley and team members waited in staging areas before they were assigned specific areas. Fanning out, crew members began searching the rubble west of Wal-Mart and Home Depot. While they worked in relative darkness, Farley said they could still see enough to understand the utter destruction.

“Everything was smashed or overturned,” he said. “People were walking in a daze. It’s hard to describe what they looked like.”

Farley and crews searched about 20 blocks in about two hours. Their search turned up nothing in the way of victims or survivors.

They returned back to the staging area and were assigned another area, this time off Main Street. Crews began searching about 70 blocks, and this time they were able to locate victims, many of whom were found in nursing homes and apartment buildings.

By this time, many volunteers had begun to show up.

“A lot of people answered the call,” he said, “but that also hampered the efforts because there were so many who showed up.”

By the time the crew was released and sent back to Blue Springs on Tuesday, they had worked about 25 hours with little to no sleep.

“We weren’t there to sleep, though,” he said. “We were there to help the people.”

That CJC and other local departments were able to assist was due mostly to government funding. Through the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, local agencies like CJC, since 2003, have received money to help fund rescue efforts. Without such funding, Farley said CJC would not have been able to travel to Joplin and offer help.

CJC was notified on May 19 that for the first time since 2003, the Kansas City urban area will not receive the Urban Areas Security Initiative grant funding. In Kansas City, the area had received $71.4 million since 2003.

“The funding is critical for departments like CJC,” Farley said. “It pays for our rescue efforts.”

For 2011, the homeland security funding was reduced by $780 million to $2.1 billion, according to information provided by Farley. The number of urban areas included in the UASI program was reduced from 65 to 31, Kansas City being eliminated altogether.

Hannes Zacharias, who leads the Regional Homeland Security Coordinating Committee and who is the county manager for Johnson County, expressed his disappointment in the homeland security’s decision, specifically because the Midwest area could be the target of terrorist attacks.

And natural disasters.

“While we’ve greatly increased the security of Greater Kansas City with the funding we’ve received to date, there is always more work to be done,” Zacharias said in another published article, infoZine. “Our local response agencies are committed to continuing to work together to prevent, protect and respond to all types of emergencies.”