JOPLIN, Mo. - On Memorial Day weekend, survivors in Joplin are memorializing those they lost, while also trying to move on.
President Obama visited Joplin for the first time to offer comfort to victims like Julie Pawles.
"One of the worst tornadoes recorded in history, and we actually survived through it," said Pawles.
Julie was home when the tornado blew her house apart, leaving her pinned in a pile of rubble. Her dog was smashed so hard against her, you can still see the outline of his name tag on her skin.
"He died on top of my leg," she said.
Julie emerged with only a few bruises so many others here weren't as lucky.
The President compared it to the recent tornado damage in Alabama.
"You come here to Joplin, and it's heartbreaking and in some ways even more devastating," he said.
Even those who live in Joplin are still shocked by what they see. Bringing them some peace of mind was part of the mission the President hoped to accomplish with his visit. He also made it clear that the government's help is not going away.
"We will be with you every step of the way until Joplin is restored, and this community is back on its feet," said President Obama.
The President shared heartbreaking stories with storm survivors who packed a Joplin auditorium. Stories of those who gave their lives to save others.
"So in the wake of this tragedy, let us live up to their example," he said.
Right now, the death toll in Joplin stands at more than 130, with 39 still unaccounted for.
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