A tornado that devastated Joplin, Mo., on Sunday evening killed 116 people, tying for second deadliest in the United States since the National Weather Service began keeping records in 1950. About 18,000 of the city's population of 50,500, 35 percent, are without power, leading state officials to ask truckers and other travelers to avoid fueling up in the area.

The tornado moved west to east through Joplin just south of 20th street running through the heart of town, destroying some 2,000 homes and other buildings. According to reports, the damage path stretched for over 6 miles, decimating neighborhoods. The storm destroyed a hospital in the western part of town, and moved out near I-44 exit 11. Joplin Mayor Mike Woolston has declared the city under a state of disaster and Gov. Jay Nixon has declared a state of emergency.

At this time, the Missouri Department of Transportation is asking truckers not to exit I-44 at Joplin except to fuel at exit 4. There is no fuel at exit 11 and there are no other truck services available in the Joplin area. People entering town to check on friends and families are causing traffic issues and hindering relief efforts.

Roads in an area north of the interstate are restricted to all but emergency vehicles. The rough borders of the area are MO Route 66 to the north, MO 249 to the east, MO FF/32nd Street to the south and Central City Road to the west. Those who attempt to enter the area will be ticketed. This area includes sections of Business US 71 and Loop 44. Visit the MoDOT Traveler Information Map and click on the Joplin tab at the top to see the restricted area boundaries.

The Missouri Department of Public Safety has suspended hours of service regulations for carriers who participate in emergency relief efforts. Participating carriers will be exempt from hours of service regulations while on duty and while retuning to their normal terminals afterward. In the declaration, Director of the Department of Public Safety John Britt acknowledged the need for supplies in the massive relief effort.

President Obama directed FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate to travel to Missouri to ensure the state has the support it needs. In anticipation of requests for assistance, a FEMA Incident Management Assistance Team is en route to Joplin, the White House said. This team will work with FEMA officials already in Missouri, as well as state and local officials, to identify disaster response needs.

The trucking industry suffered significant damage locally. The Flying J truckstop at exit 11 was directly hit by the twister, suffering heavy damage and losing its roof. According to the company, nobody at the truckstop was injured, and tractor-trailers that were destroyed have been removed. At this time, the truckstop is open and a team has been dispatched to fully assess the damage and get repairs under way. It is unclear when it will begin dispensing diesel fuel again.

Truckstops at exit 4 to the south, including Joplin 44 and a Pilot, were undamaged and are currently open. However, about half a dozen trucks were turned over, at least one in the highway median which was loaded with hazmat cleaners and soaps. Clean-up crews were sent to manage the situation.

Despite the mess, I-44 and U.S. 71 are open and not experiencing delays. DeAnne Rickabaugh of the Missouri Department of Transportation said destroyed vehicles blocking traffic have been removed from local highways and traffic is moving through safely. Rickabaugh asked truckers and drivers to avoid refueling at area stations due to power issues.

Con-way Truckload's Joplin headquarters suffered minor damage, including broken windows. However, an adjacent maintenance facility was seriously damaged, and 30 trailers and two tractors were damaged or destroyed. The operations center is operating as normal, dispatching trucks and taking orders.

Other carriers in the area are facing delays due to blocked roads and power outages. Transport Distribution Company, located to the east of town, was undamaged, but was without power as of this writing. LandAir Express to the west was north of the damage path, but untouched. However, the nearby devastation is preventing normal operations. Specifically, the company said trucks would be able to exit Joplin, but may have some trouble driving into the battered city.

Area truck dealerships may also be damaged, though it is not entirely clear which ones. The Peterbilt dealership to the south of town was untouched, but there are unconfirmed reports that it was the only unaffected dealership.

For a gallery of tractor-trailers damaged by the twister, click here.

Earlier Truckinginfo erroneously reported the death toll as 166. Correction made 9 a.m. CDT 5/24/2011