Legget & Platt: $1 M for tornado aidCARTHAGE, MO

- Furniture giant Leggett & Platt pledged $1 million toward tornado relief  for Joplin, MO tornado victims. Headquartered just 16 miles away in Carthage, Leggett says it has many employees who were hit hard by the unprecedented storm that leveled 8,000 houses, killing more than 135 people in Joplin, population 50,000.

"We know of at least 35 families who lost everything, and we mourn the death of one employee," said David Haffner, president and CEO. "Leggett & Platt has been a part of this community for more than 128 years," Haffner said. "We want to help." (Photo of Joplin, MO courtesy USDA.)

Destructive tornadoes in the last two months have wrought a path of destruction throughout the Midwest and Southeast. April alone recorded more than 600 tornadoes in the U.S., well above the typical rate of 160 for the period.

Lincoln Windows in Merrill, WI, recounted an April 10 tornado's destruction at its website, which forced weeks of slowdowns as the company rebuilt its production facility. The tragic impact drew responses from across the wood manufacturing industries: United Furniture Industries, Okolona, MI, established a $150,000 funds to assist families in its area following April tornadoes; and Joplin-based Tamko Building Products, which supplies wood decks and rails, and roofing and construction products, pledged $1 million in aid to its hard hit community.

Storms that drove flooding throughout the Mississippi River basin also affected sawmills and lumber firms, frequently located near barge docks. J.M. Jones Lumber, for example, based in Natchez, MS, erected its own levee, spending $500,000 to protect its hardwood sawmill and combat the rising waters as the Mississippi grew to six times its normal width and crested at 65 feet. As the river slowly retreats, the firm's VP Howard Jones told the Natchez Democrat he now fears barge traffic resuming along the swollen channel could endanger his plant. The company, exports U.S. hardwood lumber to Viet Nam through its 1911 Lumber subsidiary, says it hasn't been able to operate for over a month in Natchez.

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