Video: Bird's eye view of Joplin: 'Seven miles of pure hell'

  1. Closed captioning of: Bird's eye view of Joplin: 'Seven miles of pure hell'

    >>> and good evening once again from joplin , missouri , tonight where throughout this region we are feeling kind of dangerously exposed, a kind of cruelty of this weather pattern and a double-edged sword. first of all, this was the first good clear day since the big tornado for equipment both large and small and people to come back in and look at the task ahead of joplin , missouri , where easily a third of the city is gone. some 2,000 buildings. but the problem is daytime heating. it's like a terrarium as cold air comes from the upper plains and rockies, believe it or not storms are firingi ioff tonight to our west and south. more on that in a moment. we had an uptick in the number of dead today. it stands right now at 123. again, countless people have been injured and it's still too early totally that up. this tornado in joplin brought the total number of people who have died in tornadoes in our country this year so far to 488 souls. 50 deadly tornadoes have touched down in the united states so far just in 2011 . the average, 28 of those per year. president obama announced today he will visit this city on sunday. we have a look at conditions here. beginning our coverage tonight from nbc's al roker .

    >> reporter: it's now been 48 hours since the deadliest tornado in more than 50 years touched down in joplin . and the numbers are staggering. more than 1,000 homes destroyed. hundreds of businesses gone as well.

    >> there's st. johns hospital. you can see how damaged it is from up here.

    >> reporter: but from the air, this disaster takes on a whole new dimension.

    >> you are looking at the beginning of seven miles of pure hell, the path of the joplin tornado. from the ground it's pretty terrible. from the air, it's hard to believe when you look and see the swath of damage.

    >> reporter: entire neighborhoods wiped off the map.

    >> 1,000 feet up you can see how this town of 50,000 was changed in an instantment.

    >> 300 yard spread all the way through here.

    >> reporter: back on the ground, search and rescue efforts are in full effect.

    >> move off to the side so the dog doesn't smell you.

    >> reporter: rescuers search for survivors. the emotional toll almost too much for some to bear.

    >> this used to be our home. now there is nothing left of it.

    >> reporter: at this mobile e.r. unit commander mark forbes says so far there's only been a trickle of patients to treat.

    >> we have seen a lot of cuts, some broken bones and actually some motor vehicle accidents . what we believe is people with minor injuries are just taking care of themselves at home because they believe all the facilities are overwhelmed.

    >> your assignment is between 25th and 26th street.

    >> reporter: one of those coordinating the volunteers, steve vanderbol.

    >> we are moving people from west to east covering everything.

    >> reporter: it's a massive operation with national guardsmen , fire and police, plus civilian volunteers.

    >> the resiliency of the people in this community in joplin , missouri , with everything they have gone through over the past few days and actually for the past few weeks has been something that, to me, has been happening.

    >> the only clothes we have are halloween costumes .

    >> reporter: for this family the task of sifting through what's left of the home is made easier by the support of friends.

    >> reporter: in spite of their losses the two can see a future here.

    >> it's hard to imagine joplin ever being the same, but there is so much relief help pouring in that, i don't know, maybe the town will recover.

    >> maybe it will be better.

    >>> that's the spirit that a lot of folks, brian, are clinging onto.

    >> imagine that. we have to cling to that. a basic question has to do with your line of work. this weather seems so cruel that we are watching the skies again. why is this happening?

    >> we have had the jet stream to the north. lots of warm air coming in, cold air from the plains and we've got it again tonight. severe storms , tornadoes in central ob, kansas, texas, making their way across . there is a strong risk of severe storms tonight. that will be moving east tomorrow, working its way into this area -- missouri , parts of oklahoma and on into the ohio river valley . so we are not out of the woods yet by any stretch of the

msnbc.com staff and news service reports
updated 5/24/2011 7:16:20 PM ET 2011-05-24T23:16:20

As rescue crews in this city made their way through the debris of thousands of homes and concrete slabs where large stores once stood, the death toll crept higher and a nursing home operator reported that at least 11 of the fatalities were at its premises.

"What used to be a building was nothing more than a pile of rubble," said Bill Mitchell, who operated Greenbriar on the city's south side. Ten victims were residents and the 11th was a staff member, he added. One person remains unaccounted for.

"One of the little old men from the nursing home was standing in the middle of the street when we came out of the house," neighbor Sandy Conlee told the Joplin Globe in describing the aftermath. "He had blood all over his head. He was in shock."

Conlee's brother and two sons went inside to search for survivors. "They said they wished they hadn't," she added. "There were bodies and broken bones and blood."

Staff at Greenbriar and another heavily damaged facility, Meadows Care Center, had received a warning that the storm was coming and started moving people into the halls. But it hit quicker than expected, Mitchell said.

More warning, he said, "wouldn't have mattered."

Greenbriar, which had 89 residents, and Meadows Care Center, which had 104, have been able to send survivors to other facilities.

The overall death toll rose Tuesday to 122, Joplin City Manager Mark Rohr said. Hesaid more than 750 people were injured.

The twister was the deadliest single tornado to touch down in the U.S. since the National Weather Service began keeping official records in 1950, and the eighth-deadliest single twister in U.S. history.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on Tuesday upgraded the Joplin tornado from EF-4 to EF-5, a category reserved for the fiercest and most devastating twisters. The agency said winds reached more than 200 mph.

Some 1,500 people were reported missing, according to Keith Stammer of Jasper County Emergency Management. That tally could include many who simply have not yet been able to let relatives know they are fine, authorities said.

The Joplin area was also bracing for new storms, after forecasters warned that a vast swath of the United States could be hit by severe thunderstorms — with a risk of tornadoes in Arkansas, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas and Missouri, including Joplin.

Expect "a few strong tornadoes, very large hail and damaging winds over parts of the southern and central Plains and Ozarks this afternoon and tonight," the National Weather Service warned in a statement.

By midday, tornadoes had been reported on the ground near Canton, Okla., and Hugoton, Kan. A debris cloud was spotted outside Canton as the twister moved north.

In Joplin, search teams included one that poked through the remains of a Home Depot store, while others searched a Walmart and wrecked apartments as the clock ticked down on another round of severe storms that was forecast to hit later in the day.

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Officials also tested nine tornado warning sirens while the sun was shining.

The Storm Prediction Center, a weather service division, said a repeat of the deadly April outbreak across the South could be setting up, with a possible large outbreak on Tuesday and bad weather potentially reaching the East Coast by Friday.

"This is a very serious situation brewing," center director Russell Schneider said.

The center cited a "moderate risk" of severe weather in central and southeast Kansas and southwestern Missouri, which could include Joplin. It raised the warning for severe weather in central Oklahoma, southern Kansas and north Texas to "high risk," indicating that tornadoes will hit in those areas.

The center also issued a high-risk warning before the deadly outbreak last month that killed 314 people across the South over two days.

Video: From lucky survivors, a vow to rebuild (on this page)

Speaking from London, President Barack Obama said he would travel to Joplin on Sunday, and vowed to make all federal resources available.

"The American people are by your side," the president said. "We're going to stay there until every home is repaired, until every neighborhood is rebuilt, until every business is back on its feet."

FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate told NBC's TODAY that the agency is "here for the long haul."

Overnight, rescue crews worked through the rain-soaked chill, ignoring lightning and strong winds.

Two law enforcement officials were struck by lightning, one hurt very seriously, during violent thunderstorms on Monday.

Get the latest updates from breakingnews.com

Authorities fear the toll could rise as the full scope of the destruction comes into view: house after house reduced to slabs, cars crushed like soda cans, shaken residents roaming streets in search of missing family members.

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon told NBC's TODAY show that Joplin faces a "long, sad and difficult" recovery — and that the number of dead likely "will move up."

Nixon said 17 people were found alive on Monday, although local officials confirmed only seven.

Jonathan Erdman, senior meteorologist at The Weather Channel, said more storms were coming: "Sadly, given the events in Joplin, Mo., and Minneapolis this past weekend, we are not through with severe weather this week. Not by a long shot. The ingredients are in place for a classic Plains tornado outbreak Tuesday."

He said that atmospheric conditions were effectively creating a "cap" on the storm system, which — like putting a lid on a pot of boiling water increases the intensity of the boiling — was expected to result in "dangerous supercell thunderstorms" in the late afternoon or early evening Tuesday.

The Weather Channel produced a map, above, showing a vast area of the U.S. colored red, indicating areas where severe thunderstorms were possible and an even bigger area in orange where normal storms could hit.

Not since an April 1947 tornado in Woodward, Okla., had a single twister been so deadly. That storm killed 181 people, according to the National Weather Service.

"I've never seen such devastation — just block upon block upon block of homes just completely gone," said former state legislator Gary Burton who showed up to help at a volunteer center at Missouri Southern State University.

Hundreds were injured in this gritty, working-class town of 50,000 people about 160 miles south of Kansas City.

Roaring along a path nearly six miles long and up to 3/4 mile wide, the tornado flattened whole neighborhoods, splintered trees and flipped over cars and trucks.

Deadliest days

The tornado destroyed possibly "thousands" of homes, said Fire Chief Mitch Randles. It leveled hundreds of businesses, including massive ones such as Home Depot and Walmart.

"We're getting sporadic calls of cries for help from rubble piles ... most of those are turning out to be false," Randles said.

Rescuers found one person alive at the Home Depot on Monday, but they also discovered seven bodies under a concrete slab, officials said.

Search-and-rescue team leader Doug Westhoff said team members have searched as much of the store's interior as they can and are now focused on what is under collapsed concrete slabs that once helped hold up the store. After the holes are drilled, dogs will be brought in to try to detect any human scent.

Among those missing was an 18-month-old boy who was separated from his parents when the twister hit. Hope was fading as the hours passed, said Chris Moreno, who was overseeing triage efforts outside St. John's Hospital, which was evacuated after suffering significant damage.

The boy was in a nearby home and Moreno said searchers feared his body was likely buried in a debris pile.

"We don't want a bulldozer to find the boy four months from now," Moreno said.

Joplin Mayor Mike Woolston told NBC's TODAY that he expects the search and rescue effort to continue at least through the day.

"Virtually every grid has been searched at least one time; several have been searched as many as three times. But we’ll continue that effort today to try to find those folks that we can. And probably search and rescue throughout the majority of the day, and then at the end of today we’ll take a look and at some point we’ll enter the recovery mode,” he said.

Some of the most startling damage was at St. John's Regional Medical Center, where staff had only moments to hustle their patients into the hallway. Six people died there, five of them patients, plus one visitor.

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National Weather Service Director Jack Hayes said the tornado was given a preliminary label as an EF4 — the second-highest rating assigned to twisters based on the damage they cause.

Hayes said the tornado had winds of 190 to 198 mph.

'15 minutes of hell'
As the tornado bore down on their trailer home, Joshua Wohlford, his pregnant girlfriend and their two toddlers fled to a Walmart store. The family narrowly escaped after a shelf of toys partially collapsed, forming a makeshift tent that shielded them.

"It was 15 minutes of hell," Wohlford said.

Evan Menke — a recent graduate of Joplin High School told NBC's TODAY that he and his family would be dead if a tree didn't fall on their car, anchoring it to the ground amid the swirling tornado.

"I told them to pull the car into the driveway and we were just engulfed in it. Glass was busting, our whole car got demolished," he said. "A tree fell on the hood and we think that if that didn't happen, we would be dead. We're very lucky to be alive."

At a Fast Trip convenience store, another 20 people ran into a pitch-black cooler as the building began to collapse around them.

Interactive: Tornado tracker (on this page)

They documented their experience with a video that was drawing tens of thousands of views online by Monday afternoon.

The audio was even more terrifying than the imagery — earsplitting wind, objects getting smashing, wailing children and a woman praying repeatedly.

Brennan Stebbins said the group crouched on the floor, clinging to and comforting each other until they were able to crawl out. No one was seriously hurt.

Dazed survivors tried to salvage clothes, furniture, family photos and financial records from their flattened or badly damaged homes.

PhotoBlog: iPhone panoramic photograph of damage

The twister that hit Joplin was one of more than 50 reported across seven Midwest states over the weekend. One person was killed in Minneapolis and another in Kansas.

The Associated Press and Reuters 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
  76. Editor's note:
    This image contains graphic content that some viewers may find disturbing.

    Click to view the image, or use the buttons above to navigate away.

    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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