Video: Incredible stories of twister survival

  1. Closed captioning of: Incredible stories of twister survival

    >> remarkable stories of survival are starting to emerge. kevin tibbles is also in joplin with details on that side of the story. kevin , good morning to you.

    >> reporter: good morning, matt. the people of joplin were enjoying an afternoon. somer were even celebrating their high school graduation when the skies closed in and many were caught just fighting to stay alive . the tornado that slammed into joplin , missouri, was massive, destructive and deadly. from out of the rubble come taleseses of survival.

    >> it was the most frightening 15 seconds of our life. it was hell. it was hell.

    >> reporter: in this youtube video you can't see the 20 people who crammed inside a convenience store cooler to escape the twisterer. [ screaming ]

    >> reporter: but you can hear their overwhelming sense of fear as it strikes. luckily everyone survived. with much of joplin wiped away, some say it's a miracle anyone survived.

    >> the windowse were blowing in. my surround on the bathroom shower was just waving. i thought we were going to be gone.

    >> reporter: now people comb throughs what's left of their homeses, trying to salvage anything.

    >> a little bit would help us.

    >> reporter: the joplin high school took a direct hit. he and the other seniorses graduated and were on the way home when the sky turned black.

    >> i told them to pull the car into the dry. we were engulfed in it. glass was busting. our car got demolished.

    >> reporter: a group of graduates gatherer around the kitchen table to share survival stories stories. a celebration poster hangs from the window.

    >> we were huddled together.

    >> ran to the basement. probably ten seconds later we opened the cellar door. there were huge trees down everywhere.

    >> reporter: a massive tree helped them, anchoring them.

    >> a tree fell on the hood. we're lucky to be alive.

    >> reporter: the survivors share one simple but profound sentiment.

    >> at least we have each other.

    >> that's all that matters, isn't it?

    >> yeah.

    >> reporter: before this town can begin to come together to grieve and share stories, they must continue to bear the wrath of the weather and there is more expected here. matt?

    >> kevin tibbles in joplin , thank you very much.

NBC News and news services
updated 5/24/2011 12:07:33 PM ET 2011-05-24T16:07:33

From heroism, to disbelief to shock. Those were some of the stories being told by survivors of the Joplin twister. Below are some of those initial reactions to the tragedy.

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'Felt like the building was breathing'
Rod Pace
, Med Flight manager at St. John's Regional Medical Center, watched the tornado form to the southwest like so many before.

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He was on the second floor of St John's on Sunday evening to finish payroll before an expected frantic Monday. He'd wrapped up his work, but decided to stay an extra 15 to 20 minutes to let the weather pass.

Pace saw the swirling rain start to form about a mile off. The flags outside suddenly stopped blowing to the northeast, only to be pulled back to the west.

That was about the time the glass doors he was holding onto — the ones with the 100-pound magnet to keep them locked — were pulled open with Pace still holding on. He was sucked outside briefly and then pushed back in like a rag doll, all the while holding on to the handles.

Images, real-time updates from breakingnews.com

He headed to the hospital's interior for cover. Then he heard the roar. Pace and a co-worker pushed on a door to make sure it stayed shut, but it kept swaying back and forth.

"I've heard people talk about being in tornadoes and saying it felt like the building was breathing," Pace said. "It was just like that."

Video: Fire chief loses home to deadly tornado

Outside, an explosion. Glass shards pelted the exterior. Pace heard screams.

He helped pull debris off two people outside the emergency room.

"There was a lot of strength in the leadership in the hospital and ER here," Pace said, referring to the protection of those still inside before all could be evacuated. "Things were going as they were supposed to go."

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'We were buried'
Joshua Wohlford
, his pregnant girlfriend and their two toddlers sought shelter at a nearby Walmart when he saw the tornado bearing down on their trailer. They escaped serious injury when a shelf of toys partially collapsed, forming a tent over them as they huddled on the ground.

"It was 15 minutes of hell," Wohlford said. "We were buried."

The family was taken to a hospital, where a fleet of yellow school buses brought in people with minor injuries. Wohlford, 27, volunteered, helping the passengers unload.

Monday morning, one of those buses took his family to a shelter downtown. Their car totaled in the Walmart parking lot, they weren't sure how they would get home — or what would await them there.

Image: Debris of Walmart store
Charlie Riedel  /  AP
The remains of the Walmart store in Joplin, Mo., are seen before daylight Monday.

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'Getting hit by rocks'
Leslie Swatosh
ducked into a liquor store with several others as the tornado descended on them. The group huddled on the floor holding onto each other, and prayed.

"We were getting hit by rocks and I don't even know what hit me," said Swatosh. When the tornado passed, the store was destroyed but those inside were all alive, she said.

"Everyone in that store was blessed. There was nothing of that store left," said Swatosh.

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Memories of Korean War
Donald and Helen Capps
barely survived the destruction of their home, where they cowered in the first floor hallway.

"We covered our heads with a couple of pillows and the house collapsed around us," Capps, 79, said.

Capps is a Korean War veteran and said the devastation reminded him of a war zone.

"Joplin looked like some of the battles I saw in Korea," he said.

Image: Donald and Helen Capps
Mark Schiefelbein  /  AP
Donald and Helen Capps sit in a temporary Red Cross shelter at Missouri Southern State University in Joplin, Mo., Monday.

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Worried about future storms
Brenna Burzinski
took cover from the tornado in the laundry room of her second floor apartment with a boyfriend.

"Everything was being torn apart around us," Burzinski said. "It was terrifying. We were sure we were going to die."

Burzinski said she later saw bodies being pulled from her apartment building.

"I don't know how we lived," she said. "I don't know how any of us lived."

She dreads that next dark sky.

"I'll be scared that every storm will be a tornado," she said.

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Dozens huddle inside church
Floyd and Donna Rockwell
joined some 100 fellow worshipers at a Baptist church in running for shelter in a children's Sunday school room.

Rockwell, 74, lay across his 71-year-old wife to try to protect her as the funnel cloud took off the church roof and sent cinder block walls tumbling down.

Rockwell saw at least one body pulled from the rubble but was told six more people didn't survive. When the shaken couple tried to return to their home, they found it had also been lost to the storm. Rockwell is sure the couple would have died had they been there instead of at church.

"It's gone," he said. "We're starting over."

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'Saw 2 or 3 dead bodies'
Kelley Fritz rummaged through the remains of a storage building on Monday with her husband, Jimmy. But they quickly realized they'd never find the things they had stored there.

They also lost many of the belongings in their home after the twister ripped away their roof. Their sons, ages 20 and 17, both Eagle Scouts, went out in the neighborhood and quickly realized every home was destroyed.

"My sons had deceased children in their arms when they came back. My husband and I went out and saw 2 or 3 dead bodies on the ground," she said.

Fritz said she was surprised she had survived. "You could just feel the air pull up and it was so painful. I didn't think we were going to make it, it happened so fast."

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'I was scared to death'
Ken Ayton told NBC's TODAY show that he credits his dogs with helping him survive.

"They were going crazy, and I realized something was wrong, so I brought them in, and then the sirens went off."

Video: Survivor: My dogs warned me of tornado (on this page)

As the tornado ripped through his neighborhood, Ayton, who could see the oncoming storm from his bathroom, decided to seek shelter in his bathtub.

"I had heard of houses being leveled and people being saved by being in the bathtub ... I covered up with the pillows, and waited to see what would happen."

The tub — near an outside wall of his home — kept Ayton safe, but it was a harrowing experience.

PhotoBlog: iPhone panoramic photograph of tornado devastation

"I was scared to death. I really, quite frankly, did not think I would be standing here today talking to you."

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'Everything in that neighborhood is gone'
Justin Gibson
huddled with three relatives outside the tangled debris of a Home Depot. He pointed to a black pickup that had been tossed into the store's ruins and said it belonged to his roommate's brother, who was last seen in the store with his two young daughters.

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Gibson, who has three children of his own, said his home was leveled and "everything in that neighborhood is gone. The high school, the churches, the grocery store. I can't get ahold of my ex-wife to see how my kids are."

"I don't know the extent of this yet," he said, "but I know I'll have friends and family dead."

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'For two to three blocks, it's just leveled'
Matt Sheffer
dodged downed power lines, trees and closed streets to make it to his dental office across from the hospital. Rubble littered a flattened lot where a pharmacy, gas station and some doctors' offices once stood.

"My office is totally gone. Probably for two to three blocks, it's just leveled," Sheffer said. "The building that my office was in was not flimsy. It was 30 years old and two layers of brick. It was very sturdy and well built."

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High school in ruins
Kerry Sachetta
, the principal of a destroyed Joplin High School, was among about 75 to 100 stragglers who took cover from the storm in a basement at Missouri Southern State University after the high school graduation ceremony on Sunday afternoon.

As he departed, he began receiving text messages that his high school had been destroyed.

He headed there and found the top part of the auditorium gone, the band and music rooms caved in, windows blown out and his office missing its roof. Fifty-year-old trees outside the school had been stripped of their limbs.

Two churches across the street were "completely gone," and Sachetta was stunned by the condition of the nearby Franklin Technology Center.

"You see pictures of World War II, the devastation and all that with the bombing. That's really what it looked like," he said. "I couldn't even make out the side of the building. It was total devastation in my view. I just couldn't believe what I saw."

Image: A view of the destruction at Joplin High School
Mike Stone  /  Reuters
Joplin High School is seen Monday.

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Families disoriented
Jeff Lehr
, a reporter for the Joplin Globe, said he was upstairs in his home when the storm hit but was able to make his way to a basement closet. The storm tore the roof off his house, but he was safe. When he emerged, he found people wandering through the streets, covered in mud.

Video: Joplin reporter talks of impact

"I'm talking to them, asking if they knew where their family is," Lehr said. "Some of them didn't know and weren't sure where they were. All the street markers were gone."

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Saved by mattress
Sharon Hurtt and Bill Dearing
had no basement to flee to when the tornado descended on their single-story home, so they huddled in a closet between two bedrooms. Within minutes, the roof was gone and powerful winds ripped the door off the closet.

"We were holding on to keep from blowing away," said Hurtt.

A mattress blown off the bed somehow became wedged in the doorway.

"It probably saved us," said Hurtt.

When the couple emerged, the daycare center next door was gone and mangled cars and other debris littered their yard.

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Restaurant refrigerator served as shelter
Carla Tabares
said she, her husband and several families with children squeezed into the walk-in refrigerator of an Outback Steakhouse restaurant when the twister neared, huddling in the chilly darkness until the howling of the storm passed.

"It was really awful, really scary," she said. The restaurant was largely unscathed, but other buildings were badly damaged. "I'm just thankful we got out alive, and I really feel sorry for the people who didn't."

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Racing through debris
Denise Bayless
said she and her husband were at church when their adult son called to say the tornado was hitting his house. The couple got in their car to race to his aid.

"We just had to weave in and out of debris. Power lines were down everywhere, and you could smell gas," she said.

After stopping to assist a woman they heard screaming, trapped inside her home, Bayless said she ran five blocks to her son's house, where she found every home on the street — some 20 dwellings including his — were gone.

"I just lost all my bearings. There was nothing that looked familiar," said Bayless, whose son was unhurt.

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Kitchen caved in
Matthew Parks
works at a homeless shelter, where he said he and his pregnant wife may become residents — at least for the time being.

They weren't home when the tornado hit but returned Monday morning to find the ceiling in the kitchen caved in, water soaking the floor and carpet and furniture was tossed about. The only room spared was the nursery prepared for their first child — it had virtually no damage.

While Parks collected baby clothes and other items from the nursery, his parents, Eileen and Brian Parks swept up broken glass and mopped water from the wood floor.

Eileen Parks had struggled to reach her son and daughter-in-law Sunday night and said she was just happy they were OK.

"The phones were out and I thought, 'Oh Matthew, please call me,'" she said.

The Associated Press, Reuters and NBC contributed to this report.

Photos: Deadly storms rake Midwest

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  1. Patrick O'Banion salvages items from his devastated home in Joplin, Mo., on Monday, May 30. (Charlie Riedel / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  2. Katlyn Wilkins, in tree, and Andrea Wilkins Morelli work on securing an American flag on May 29 in Joplin. (Joe Raedle / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  3. President Barack Obama and residents view tornado damage on May 29 in Joplin. (J. Scott Applewhite / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  4. President Barack Obama pauses while speaking at Missouri Southern University on May 29, during a memorial for victims of the Joplin tornado. (Brendan Smialowski / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  5. Joplin residents stand for a moment of silence during a memorial service on May 29, marking the one week anniversary of an EF-5 tornado which ripped a six mile long path of destruction through Joplin.. (Charlie Riedel / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  6. Kenzie Buffalo, left, plays catch with a baseball on the roof of what used to be her grandfather's house with her friend Sarah Koepke in Joplin on May 28. (Larry W. Smith / EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
  7. Matt Teel cleans off a Jesus statue after it was found in the ruins of St. Mary's Church in Joplin on May 28. As the town continues to recover from the treacherous storm over 150 people are still missing. Funerals are being planned. (Joe Raedle / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  8. Tracey Presslor comforts friends and classmates of her nephew Will Norton on May 28 in Joplin. Family members had said Norton and his father were on the road when the storm hit. The teen's Hummer H3 flipped several times, throwing him from the vehicle, likely through the sunroof. His body was found in a pond near the truck. (Eric Thayer / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  9. Stephen Dickson stands in front of his parent's home while on the lookout for looters at dusk in Joplin on May 27. Although the house has no roof, Dickson sometimes sleeps in the home to protect it from looting. (Mario Tama / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  10. The remains of a destroyed tree in Joplin on May 27, five days after a massive tornado passed through the town. (Mario Tama / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  11. Debris is seen near Joplin High School on May 27 in Joplin. (T. Rob Brown / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  12. During a driving rain storm, Tracy Rogers, center, and others look for items to salvage from a friend's destroyed home on May 27 in Joplin. (Joe Raedle / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  13. A vault is all that remains of the Commerce Bank in a devastated Joplin neighborhood on May 27. (Charlie Riedel / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  14. Scott Anderson reaches for a piece of debris on May 27 near his heavily damaged home in Joplin. Anderson said, "It's like they dropped a bomb on us." The town continues the process of recovering from the storm which damaged or destroyed an estimated 8,000 structures. (Mario Tama / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  15. A storm cloud passes over a communications tower following a thunderstorm on May 27 in Joplin. (Mario Tama / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  16. A search and rescue team looks for victims at a devastated apartment complex in Joplin on May 26. (Charlie Riedel / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  17. Flags are placed around what's left of Joplin High School on May 26. (Charlie Riedel / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  18. Maggie Burlingane looks at what remains of her daughter's home on May 26 in Joplin. (Joe Raedle / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  19. Clothes hang untouched in a closet inside a destroyed house in Joplin. (Joe Raedle / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  20. Blanca Lopez holds her daughter Bianca as they wait to receive food, clothes and other donated items in Joplin on May 26. (Joe Raedle / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  21. Robert Elbert hands a photograph of Stephanie Elbert's mother and father to her after they found it among the remains of their house on May 26 in Joplin. (Joe Raedle / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  22. Darryl Strickland walks through what is left of his garage near Elgin, Ala., on May 26. It was blown 50 yards along US 72 by severe weather that raced across northwest Alabama. (Matt Mckean / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  23. Severe storms blew across the Midwest on May 25, hitting places like this trailer park in Bloomington, Ind. A few minor injuries were reported. (Darron Cummings / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  24. Scott Taylor checks on Sue Dillman shortly after a severe storm tore the roof off her home in Bloomington on May 25. Dillman's home and surrounding barns were heavily damaged. (Chris Howell / The Herald Times via AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  25. Ryan Millikan, center, lifts a container to Nick Wongratananajcha, left, as they help Lee Morris gather his possessions on May 25, three days after a killer tornado ravaged neighborhoods in Joplin. (Tannen Maury / EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
  26. An aerial image of Joplin, Mo., shot on May 24, shows the remains of Joplin High School two days after an EF5 tornado touched down and destroyed a large portion of the town. The image was collected by digital imaging aircraft owned by M.J. Harden, a GeoEye Company. Harden flew an emergency mission for Missouri state officials to provide insight on relief efforts and emergency response. (M.j. Harden / Geoeye / Handout / EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
  27. Alisha Kelly, of Neosho, gives away food and bottled water to residents and emergency workers on May 25 in Joplin. "We are just individuals who want to help," Kelly said. The tornado that ripped through the town of about 50,000 people May 22 is being called the deadliest single tornado in the U.S. in 60 years. (Julie Denesha / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  28. A message is seen on the side of a building on May 25 in Joplin. A tornado tore through much of the city on Sunday, wiping out neighborhoods and killing more than 12o people. (Mark Humphrey / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  29. Lori Haun removes the house letters from what remains of her devastated Joplin home on May 25. (Charlie Riedel / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  30. A recovery crew looks for bodies on May 25 in a destroyed church after a devastating tornado hit Joplin, Missouri. The death toll from a monster tornado that ravaged Joplin, rose to 125 on Wednesday after an overnight search turned up more bodies but no new survivors, authorities said. (Eric Thayer / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  31. Shirley Waits cries as she stands in what is left of her mother's home on May 25 in Joplin. (Jeff Roberson / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  32. Family and friends of a tornado victim clean-up and sort through debris on May 25 at a mobile home in Chickasha, Okla. (Sue Ogrocki / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  33. A house is left as a pile of rubble after being destroyed by a tornado west of El Reno, Okla. on May 24. (Chris Landsberger / The Oklahoman via AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  34. Rebecca Watts walks by a car stuck in a tree after a tornado hit north of El Reno, Okla. on May 24. The high-powered storms arrived Tuesday night and early Wednesday, just days after a massive tornado tore up the southwest Missouri city of Joplin. (Chris Landsberger / The Oklahoman via AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  35. Joplin High School sophomore Landan Taylor makes has way across the wreckage of the school's theater in Joplin, Mo., on May 24. At least 125 people were killed and hundreds more injured when a tornado cut a destructive path through Joplin on Sunday evening. Classes at all Joplin schools have been canceled for the rest of the schoolyear after four schools were damaged or destroyed. (Mark Schiefelbein / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  36. At the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center of Minnesota in Roseville on May 24, an avian nursery coordinator Jessika Madison helps feed some of the nine blue heron chicks that were orphaned by the tornado that hit Minneapolis on Sunday. The chicks have to be fed live minnows every 30-45 minutes while while they are awake. (Richard Tsong-Taatarii / Minneapolis Star Tribune via Zuma Press) Back to slideshow navigation
  37. An official searches for a missing child near the lake shore after a tornado ripped through the Falcon Lake area of Piedmont, Oklahoma, on May 24. Several tornadoes touched down in Oklahoma on Tuesday afternoon, the largest one striking El Reno, west of Oklahoma City, and continuing to the northeast, the National Weather Service said. (Bill Waugh / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  38. A half-mile-wide tornado moves north towards Piedmont, Okla., on May 24. (Paul B. Southerland / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  39. The remains of the house owned by Scott and M'Lynn McCann that was destroyed by a tornado west of El Reno, Okla., are shown Tuesday. Authorities say a series of tornadoes rolled through Oklahoma City and its suburbs at rush hour on May 24. (Paul B. Southerland / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  40. Neighbors pitch in to help recover items out of the home of Scott and M'Lynn McCann that was destroyed by a tornado west of El Reno, Okla., on May 24. (Chris Landsberger / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  41. Armando Castillo retrieves personal items out of his truck that he was driving when it was swept off I-40 and destroyed by a tornado west of El Reno, Okla., on May 24. (Chris Landsberger / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  42. Ken Haebaum stands in his mud-splattered kitchen after a tornado ripped through the Falcon Lake area of Piedmont, Okla., on May 24. Haebaum and his wife sought shelter from the tornado in the hallway behind the door on the right side of the photo. (Bill Waugh / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  43. Martha Gaines walks among the rubble of her home after a tornado ripped through the Falcon Lake area of Piedmont, Okla., on May 24. (Bill Waugh / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  44. Jeannie Owens searches through a family member's destroyed home in Joplin, Mo., on May 24. A devastating tornado hit the day before, leaving hundreds dead or injured. (Eric Thayer / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  45. A rescue team searches for survivors in a store on May 24 in Joplin, Mo. (Mario Tama / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  46. Paul Wright attempts to salvage items from a family member's home in Joplin, Mo. on May 24. (Mario Tama / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  47. Jerry Parker looks through pictures recovered from his destroyed home in Joplin, Mo. on May 24. (Eric Thayer / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  48. Christal Comstock sits outside her family home, which was destroyed in Joplin, Mo. on May 24. (Mario Tama / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  49. Kyle and Alicia Gordon of Joplin, Mo., embrace in what's left of their son's room on May 24 (Eric Thayer / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  50. The path of the powerful tornado that destroyed a 6-mile-long swath of Joplin, Mo. is seen May 24. (Charlie Riedel / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  51. Dina Meek and her daughter Maddie, 9, salvage what they can from her sister-in-law's home on May 24. (Joe Raedle / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  52. Ernie Darby removes a table from a debris site in Joplin, Mo., on May 24. (Joe Raedle / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  53. Members of the Missouri Task Force One search-and-rescue team work at the Home Depot store in Joplin on May 24. (Jeff Roberson / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  54. Mangled cars are inside a destroyed Joplin apartment complex on May 24. (Charlie Riedel / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  55. Volunteers look for survivors in the rubble of a home in Joplin, Mo., on May 24. (Eric Thayer / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  56. Water spurts from a broken water line in a destroyed Joplin home on May 24 as Lindsay Grundy, left, and Dana Moritz search for their grandmother's belongings. (Tannen Maury / EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
  57. David Turner removes a file cabinet on May 24 from the destroyed home of his sister in Joplin. (Tannen Maury / EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
  58. The view of a destroyed Joplin apartment complex on May 24. (Charlie Riedel / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  59. A vehicle on May 24 sits in the debris of a cell phone tower that collapsed onto an apartment building on the east side of Joplin. (Mark Schiefelbein / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  60. Greg Beeching, left, and his son Brian Beeching move a washer and dryer out of a relative's damaged apartment in Joplin on May 24. (Mark Schiefelbein / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  61. The hard-hit St. John's Regional Medical Center in Joplin as well as dozens of destroyed homes are seen on May 24. (Charlie Riedel / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  62. Alicia Gordon salvages items on May 24 from her Joplin home. (Eric Thayer / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  63. The sun rises over a destroyed neighborhood in Joplin on May 24. (Joe Raedle / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  64. Ernie Darby hugs his son Davis on May 24 as they salvage what they can from the remains of their home in Joplin. (Joe Raedle / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  65. Janet Martin attempts to salvage medication and mementos from her brother's home in Joplin before a second storm moves in on May 23. "Twenty minutes before the storm, he left to go to church," she said. "He would have been in that basement if he hadn't gone." (Julie Denesha / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  66. A couple walk toward a destroyed building in Joplin on May 23. (Ed Zurga / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  67. Volunteers clear rubble as they look for survivors in Joplin on May 23. (Eric Thayer / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  68. A police officer sits in his vehicle facing what is left of the high schoolin Joplin on May 23. (Larry W Smith / EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
  69. Kathleen Kelsey, a canine rescue specialist with the Missouri Task Force One search-and-rescue team, guides ChicoDog through the wreckage of a public housing complex in Joplin on May 23. (Mark Schiefelbein / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  70. People look at what is left of homes in a Joplin neighborhood on May 23. (Larry W Smith / EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
  71. Joplin was not the only area that saw a twister over the weekend. Reading, Kan., also was hit, with one person killed. This grain elevator was part of the debris field there on May 23. (Orlin Wagner / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  72. Rescue workers in lime-green jackets search St. John's hospital in Joplin, Mo., May 23. (Wisneski Tulsa World / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  73. This Joplin neighborhood was almost completely flattened. (Charlie Riedel / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  74. Maggie Kelley and her husband, Trey Adams hug their dog, Saint, after finding him amid the rubble of her home in Joplin, May 23. (Adam Wisneski / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  75. Ted Grabenauer sleeps on his front porch the morning after a tornado ripped the roof of his home in Joplin, Mo., May 23. (Mike Stone / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
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    A pool of blood remains on the floor of a business in Joplin, Mo., May 23. (Mike Stone / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  77. A note to rescue workers is seen on a house damaged by a tornado in Joplin, Mo., May 23. (Adam Wisneski / Tulsa World via AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  78. Mark Langford sorts through the debris looking for personal belongings after his home was destroyed when a tornado hit Joplin, Mo., May 23. (Mike Stone / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  79. A shelf cloud containing a thunderstorm approaches tornado-ravaged Joplin, Mo., on May 23. A large tornado moved through much of the city Sunday, damaging a hospital, hundreds of homes and businesses and killing at least 89 people. (Charlie Riedel / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  80. Blocks of homes lie in total destruction after a tornado hit Joplin, Mo., on May 23. (Mike Stone / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  81. Donald and Helen Capps of Joplin, Mo., sit in a temporary Red Cross shelter at the Robert Ellis Young Gymnasium at Missouri Southern State University in Joplin, Mo., on May 23. The Capps lost their home after a destructive tornado moved through Joplin on Sunday evening. (Mark Schiefelbein / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  82. Emergency workers wait for a medical team after finding a body in a destroyed car in Joplin, Mo., in the early hours of May 23. A large tornado moved through much of the city Sunday, damaging a hospital and hundreds of homes and businesses. (Charlie Riedel / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  83. Utility workers clear downed power lines near the St. John's hospital early on Monday after the devastating tornado hit Joplin, Mo. (Mike Stone / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  84. An emergency worker searches a Walmart store that was severely damaged by the tornado that hit Joplin, Mo., on May 22. (Charlie Riedel / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  85. Emergency vehicles line up along northbound Rangeline Road in Joplin, Mo. after the tornado swept through the city on Sunday evening. (Roger Nomer / The Joplin Globe via AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  86. Joplin residents help a woman who survived in her basement when the tornado hit the city on Sunday. (Mike Gullett / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  87. A destroyed helicopter lies on its side in the parking lot of the Joplin Regional Medical Center in Joplin, Mo., on May 22. (Mark Schiefelbein / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  88. William Jackson, left, and Ashley Martin, volunteer firefighters from Oklahoma, survey the wreckage of destroyed homes in Joplin, Mo., on May 22. (Mark Schiefelbein / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  89. Two rescuers try to pull a woman from a destroyed building in Joplin, Mo., after a tornado struck the city on May 22. (Roger Nomer / The Joplin Globe via AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  90. A man carries a young girl who was rescued after being trapped with her mother in their home after the tornado hit Joplin, Mo. on May 22. (Mike Gullett / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  91. Rescuers and neighbors look through the the wreckage of destroyed homes on a hillside in Joplin, Mo., on May 22. (Mark Schiefelbein / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  92. A triage team treats wounded people at a triage station set up at 26th and Main Streets in Joplin, Mo. after the tornado swept through the city on May 22. (Mari Taylor / The Joplin Globe via AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  93. Emergency personnel walk through a neighborhood severely damaged by a tornado near the Joplin Regional Medical Center in Joplin, Mo., on May 22. (Mark Schiefelbein / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  94. A pickup truck with what look to be two rescue workers and two injured people weaves in and out of traffic to get to Freeman Hospital West in Joplin, Mo. (Jaime Green / The Wichita Eagle via AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  95. A tractor trailer is tipped over on Interstate 44 near Joplin, Mo., after the town was hit by a tornado on May 22. (Jaime Green / The Wichita Eagle via AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  96. A woman talks on the phone from a roofless garage after a tornado struck northern Minneapolis, May 22, causing extensive property damage, killing at least one person and injuring at least 18 others. (Craig Lassig / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  97. Lucas Wickander, 13, shows off the skinned knuckles he received after diving under a porch to escape a tornado that struck northern Minneapolis, May 22. (Craig Lassig / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  98. This photo taken Saturday, May 21, looking east from S.W. 37th and Wanamaker shows funnel clouds above Topeka, Kan., at around 6:20 p.m. (Phil Anderson / The Capital-Journal via AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  99. Damage to the Reading, Kan., post office caused by a tornado is shown May 22. (Anthony S. Bush / The Capital-Journal via AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  100. Matt Railsback, of Miller, Kan., looks at the damage on May 22, caused by a tornado Saturday night in Reading, Kan. Miller was trapped in a storm shelter with his girlfriend in the blue house in the background. His truck was rolled end over end and came to rest at the fire station across the street. (Anthony S. Bush / The Capital-Journal via AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  101. Cleanup begins at a tornado-damaged home in Reading, Kan., May 22. (Orlin Wagner / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  102. Lightning from a severe thunderstorm flashes in the distance beyond a crucifix in a cemetery near Easton, Kan., Saturday, May 21. (Charlie Riedel / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
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Interactive: 2011 tornado season

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