May 23, 2011 8:05 AM, EDT

Missouri Tornado Damages Con-way Truckload’s Headquarters

Con-way Inc. said Monday its truckload division is continuing to operate out of its Joplin, Mo., headquarters, despite some damage from Sunday evening’s huge tornado that killed at least 89 people in the city.

“The company’s primary operations center in the main building was not damaged and is up and running on emergency backup generator power,” Con-way said in a statement.

Several Con-way Truckload workers were on-site but managed to find safety in truck pits and avoid injury, a company official said.

The tornado tore through the city at about 6 p.m. Sunday, damaging a hospital, a nursing home and leveling as many as 2,000 structures. Wal-Mart and Home Depot stores also suffered serious damage, news reports said.

“We’re in a lot better shape than the folks around us,” one Con-way official said Monday. “We have some damage to our building. But six blocks to the north of us is flattened.”

Con-way said it is “in communication with its drivers and customers, is accepting customer orders and is dispatching trucks,” adding that a nearby maintenance building was “seriously damaged” and that “about 30 mostly empty trailers and two tractors in the yard were damaged or destroyed.”

Meanwhile, Interstate 44 north of Joplin was reopened in both directions Monday morning after being closed as trucks caught in the twister and overturned were removed, news reports said.

Missouri Trucking Association president Tom Crawford said he spent Sunday night and Monday trying to reach members to determine what damage other carriers in the area had suffered. MTA is headquartered Jefferson City, Mo.

“As you look at trucking interests in Missouri, Joplin is a big trucking center,” Crawford said. “We’ve got a large membership base down there. Communications are difficult [and] right now [we are] just trying to locate and see who’s around, needs help, what they need.”

MTA is recommending drivers fuel up anywhere but Joplin, Crawford added.

Con-way Inc. is ranked No. 6 on the Transport Topics 100 listing of U.S. and Canadian for-hire carriers.