JOPLIN - As the sun rose over Joplin on Tuesday morning, rays revealed damage as far as the eye could see. Lives of residents are splintered like the debris that represents their homes.
Melissa McCoy had just returned home from Australia when the tornado hit. "I opened the back door and it was green. It was just the nastiest sky I'd ever seen so I knew something bad was gonna come...First it was glass breaking and wood you know you could just hear it...The nails coming out of the wall...The floor was shaking. It was like I was in the midst of an earthquake," McCoy said.
Even faced with the reality of all this destruction, McCoy is still in disbelief. "It's still surreal. Just looking at the devastation I can't believe that I lived through it."
Damage people say you must see to truly believe.
"I think the pictures give people a sense of what has happened here, but you don't get a sense of the scope," said Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill when she came to survey the disaster area.
But McCoy doesn't have to go through it alone. Her brother and sister-in-law, whose home was spared, came to help. As did more than 30 members of a Missouri State fraternity.
"I think it was facebook, actually, that I first heard about," said Jacob Kurtz, a volunteer from Missouri State.
Like many people, Jacob Kurtz first saw the disaster in Joplin on social media sites. He and his brothers had to help.
"I started texting people and calling people...It didn't take really any convincing. It was like 'Ok let's go. When and where?'"
The Missouri State team arrived Monday to help strangers in their time of need.
"Oh yeah we don't know any of these people," said Kurtz.
McCoy told us she's had great luck with the kindness of strangers, but with all the emotions swirling around.
KOMU: "Do you feel lucky?"
McCoy: "I'm not sure how I feel yet."
McCoy is still trying to make sense of it all.