Video: Joplin hospitals join forces in tornado's aftermath

  1. Transcript of: Joplin hospitals join forces in tornado's aftermath

    BRIAN WILLIAMS, anchor (Joplin, Missouri): Here in this -- what's become a media compound at the hospital , the governor of this state was walking around earlier, and I grabbed him for a moment, and we talked about the job ahead for this state, what they do in what order.

    Governor JAY NIXON (Democrat, Missouri): I said one more time. I mean, with seven rescues today, we still believe there are people buried below this rubble. And even though it's raining and it's thundering and lightning and these firefighters have come in from Kansas City , Task Force One from Columbia , they want one more shot to come across this area to hopefully get some other good news out of what's been a horrifically disastrous time.

    WILLIAMS: Governor Nixon of the state of Missouri .

    BRIAN WILLIAMS, anchor (Joplin, Missouri): Again, we're here at St. John's hospital -- Regional Medical Center , really. A landmark here in Joplin and for this area, and because of the windows blown out, because of the damage they took, it's become such an iconic picture of this, though not representative of the clear earth that this tornado left behind. What a community to take this hit. Their story tonight from NBC 's Ron Mott .

    RON MOTT reporting: Trouble usually arrives at St. John's Regional Medical Center in the ER.

    Dr. JIM RISCOE (St. John's Regional Medical Center): I drove up to the emergency room , the emergency room was gone.

    MOTT: On Sunday trouble showed up from every imaginable direction with fury, whipping doctors, nurses and staff into a sudden frenzy of concern, then care. First moving 183 patients away from windows, next out of the building altogether.

    Dr. RISCOE: The tornado was on us before we even knew it, and everybody just dived for cover under the patient beds and gurneys. I'm just amazed there was nobody seriously injured. Every single...

    MOTT: Outside the hospital , cars are twisted, crumpled chunks of metal. A medical helicopter on its side, its rotor smashed into pieces. An entire glass facade was ripped off the building. The fire chief said it took just 90 minutes to evacuate the nine-story hospital .

    Chief MITCH RANDLES (Joplin Fire Department): For something of this devastation, I don't think anybody can be prepared for this. The damage is so widespread, so just destructive. It's just -- it's, you know, until you see something like this, it's just hard to imagine.

    MOTT: While many of the seriously wounded were transported to other area hospitals, today the walking wounded made their way to Memorial Hall where patients will be treated for now, officials say. Some patients were rushed to the town's only other hospital any way they could get there.

    Dr. RISCOE: This is a very blessed medical community with two great hospitals right across the street from each other. And we've always been very competitive, but it -- this really brings out the best in people.

    MOTT: A block away from the hospital , this homeowner sifted through the rubble that was his two-bedroom home, looking for clothes he can salvage for his two daughters.

    Unidentified Man: You know, pants and tennis shoes. They don't have anything. But a little bit is something that'll help us.

    MOTT: Tonight the help many here need has already poured in from neighboring communities in three other states, with more helping hands on the way.

    Dr. RISCOE: I'm gratified and amazed at the outpouring of support from our neighbors.

    MOTT: According to the Joplin Globe newspaper here, they say up to 1200 people have sought treatment for their injuries. Tonight, Brian , the community is coming together because they know this is going to be a long struggle to get back.

    WILLIAMS: And, again, this insult to injury with this weather coming in, another wave of it. Ron Mott on the story unfolding behind us here at the hospital . Ron , thanks.

msnbc.com staff and news service reports
updated 5/24/2011 11:09:24 AM ET 2011-05-24T15:09:24

Jonathan Elliott had heard the sirens blaring outside St. John's Regional Medical Center for nearly 30 minutes when things suddenly took a terrifying turn.

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The building started shaking, the lights began to flicker and 16-year-old Elliott could feel the wind coming up beneath the floor in his grandfather's seventh-floor hospital room. It was time to make a move, and that's what Elliott and his grandmother did, making a dash for the relative safety of an inside stairwell.

Up to that moment, "we had no idea it was going to blow," Elliott said.

The tornado that smashed Joplin on Sunday evening also ravaged one of the town's major hospitals just when it was needed the most, killing six people, blowing out windows and sucking up X-rays and medical records and dumping them two counties away.

After the twister had passed, the entire 367-bed hospital was evacuated for fear of structural damage to the modern, nine-story building, where walls were knocked 10 feet out of place and rooms strewn with broken glass, concrete, ceiling tiles and other dangerous debris. Some patients were taken out in wheelchairs, while others unable to make their way out on their own after the elevators were disabled were slid down the stairs on mattresses.

Doctors and nurses set up a triage center in the parking lot amid crushed cars and a smashed helicopter, but once the storm victims were evaluated, they had to be sent to other hospitals for treatment. Some staff members who reported to work at St. John's after the tornado were themselves injured but toiled through the night anyway.

At the time, the hospital had 183 patients. At least 59 of the St. John’s patients were taken to a sister hospital in Springfield, spokeswoman Lisa Cox said. The patients ranged in age from a 4-year-old boy to a 91-year-old woman, she said, adding that none of the patients' conditions has been confirmed.

At least 90 other patients were taken to CoxHealth hospitals in Springfield, said spokeswoman Stacy Fender. Many were treated and released and a few were admitted, said Fender, who couldn't comment on the patients' conditions.

The recovery effort was going as smoothly as possible, said Cox, of the St. John's site in Springfield. She credited frequent drills with calm amid the chaos.

"They really do a great job of preparing us for these kinds of incidents," she said.

'Looked like a nuclear disaster'
On the morning after the storm, parts of the hospital — one of Joplin's tallest buildings — appeared bombed out.

"I spent most of my life at that hospital," emergency room physician Dr. Jim Roscoe said, his voice cracking. "It's awful. I had two pregnant nurses who dove under gurneys. I had staff who showed up. They were hurt, but they worked all night long. It's a testimony to the human spirit."

In the terrifying minutes before the twister struck, the hospital declared a "Condition Gray," and patients, relatives and staff members were told to leave their rooms and go into stairwells and other protected interior parts of the building.

Despite what hospital officials said was at least 10 minutes' warning inside the building before the tornado hit, Roscoe said at least five of the 116 people who died in the tornado in Joplin were killed at St. John's. He said he did not know if the victims were patients or staff members.

He compared the carnage to what he saw in 1981 when he dealt with the collapse of a skywalk at the Hyatt Regency hotel in Kansas City, where 114 people were killed. He said it was also similar to the scene in Haiti last year when he went there to help after the earthquake.

"It looked like a nuclear disaster had happened. Cars had been thrown like playing cards. Power lines were sparking. I couldn't believe it," he said.

Grandfather survives with just a scratch
Elliott and his grandmother were among the fortunate. When they emerged from the stairwell, they didn't recognize the hospital.

The Wichita, Kan., teenager said that his grandfather had been taken off a ventilator earlier in the day. When the twister struck, Elliott said, he didn't have time to move the older man from his hospital bed and left him behind. When Elliott returned to the room, it was littered with debris, but his grandfather had suffered just one small scratch on his head.

"I was really worried, but I was really surprised," Elliott said.

While Elliott said he didn't hear the warning from the hospital staff to take cover, he said the doctors took control afterward, ordering everyone to evacuate the building as fast as possible. For the patients who couldn't walk, Elliott and others used mattresses to slide them down the stairs.

On the way out, Elliott saw at least three patients being given CPR. He also heard someone yell, "We've got a dead guy here!" on the third floor.

Officials said the hospital was completely evacuated within 90 minutes after the tornado. When Elliott finally emerged with his grandparents safe, he was shocked to see cars piled on top of one another. He looked back to see windows blown out, curtains whipping in the wind and bent pieces of metal covering the building.

"I was just trying to grasp it all," Elliott said.

The Associated Press and msnbc.com's Jonel Aleccia 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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    This image contains graphic content that some viewers may find disturbing.

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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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