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Joplin Tornado Anniversary Photos: Survivors Remember Storm

05/22/12 08:42 PM ET  AP

JOPLIN, Mo. — From dawn to dusk, residents who lived through the tornado that devastated Joplin, Mo., last year are remembering the storm and celebrating their survival.

The storm that hit the city on the afternoon of May 22, 2011, wiped clean entire neighborhoods, devastated a hospital and flattened schools. A year later, the debris is cleared from the city of 50,000, and residents are continuing the work of rebuilding their community.

A year after the storm ripped through the city, Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon opened the day of remembrances with a sunrise ceremony where balloons were lifted into the air. Officials broke ground on schools that will replace the ones that were destroyed. Survivors are walking the path of the storm. And at 5:41 p.m. – the precise moment the tornado struck – residents will fall silent to remember the 161 lives lost.

Associated Press Photographer Charlie Riedel and photographers from The Joplin Globe show, from sunrise to sunset, how the day of memorials unfolds in Joplin.

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  • Shovels and hard hats stand prepared on Tuesday, May 22, 2012 for the groundbreaking ceremony for the new Irving Elementary School to be located near the former St. John's Regional Medical Center in Joplin, Mo. The old school, located nine blocks east of the new site, was completely destroyed by the May 22, 2011 tornado. The groundbreaking was one of a number of events taking place on the anniversary of the Joplin tornado. (AP Photo/The Joplin Globe, Roger Nomer)

  • A sign remembering a tornado victim is seen on a street corner Tuesday, May 22, 2012, in Joplin, Mo. The community is marking the anniversary of an EF-5 tornado that killed 161 people as it cut a wide swath through Joplin a year ago. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

  • Dignitaries wait to turn dirt during a groundbreaking for the new Irving Elementary School near the ruins of St. John's Regional Medical Center Tuesday, May 22, 2012, in Joplin, Mo. The ceremony is the first of three groundbreakings for new schools to replace buildings destroyed by an EF-5 tornado that killed 161 people as it cut a wide swath through Joplin a year ago today. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

  • Second grader Logan Foglesong, age 7, turns dirt during a groundbreaking for the new Irving Elementary School near the ruins of St. John's Regional Medical Center Tuesday, May 22, 2012, in Joplin, Mo. The ceremony is the first of three groundbreakings for new schools to replace buildings destroyed by an EF-5 tornado that killed 161 people as it cut a wide swath through Joplin a year ago today. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

  • In this May 7, 2012 photo taken in his Joplin, Mo. home, Malachi Murdock talks about injuries he sustained when he was caught in an EF-5 tornado while his mother, Susan looks on. Murdock spoke at a sunrise service Tuesday, May 22, 2011 which was the first of a variety events in Joplin to mark the one-year anniversary of the tornado that destroyed a large swath of the city and killed 161 people. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

  • Renee Denton, director for medical oncology and pediatrics at Freeman Hospital, releases a lantern Tuesday, May 22, 2012 during Morning Has Broken event at Freeman Hospital. The laterns were in remembrance of the May 22, 2011 tornado victims. The tornado killed 161 people and destroyed one-third of the city, making it the nation's deadliest single tornado in six decades. (AP Photo/The Joplin Globe, Roger Nomer)

  • Barack Obama

    President Barack Obama does a meet and greet with the graduating class of Joplin High School before commencement exercises Monday night, May 21, 2012 in Joplin Mo. (AP Photo/The Kansas City Star, Rich Sugg, Pool)

  • Barack Obama

    President Barack Obama is greeted by well-wishers Monday evening, May 21, 2012 at the airport in Joplin, Mo. Obama was on his way to deliver a commencement speech for the graduating seniors of Joplin High School. (AP Photo/The Kansas City Star, Rich Sugg, Pool)

  • Barack Obama

    Graduating seniors of Joplin High School applaud president Barack Obama after his speech Monday night, May 21, 2012 at commencement exercises in Joplin, Mo. (AP Photo/The Kansas City Star, Rich Sugg, Pool)

  • Quinton Anderson

    Quinton Anderson, center, and other members of the class of 2012 applaud President Barack Obama at the Joplin High School commencement ceremony, Monday, May 21, 2012 at Missouri Southern State University in Joplin, Mo. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

  • Joplin School Superintendent C.J. Huff wipes away tears as he addresses the Class of 2012 during Joplin High School commencement ceremonies Monday, May 21, 2012, in Joplin, Mo. Seniors at the school finished their high school education in a converted big-box store after the old high school was destroyed by an EF-5 tornado that killed 161 people on graduation day a year ago. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

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Filed by Joanna Zelman  |