JOPLIN, Mo. -- The long process of cleaning up is underway in Joplin, which saw unprecedented damage from what is being called one of the 10 worst tornadoes in recorded history.
Residents returned to their homes Wednesday, taking advantage of a break in the weather to comb through the wreckage of their neighborhoods in search of anything they could save.
With more than 1,000 people still unaccounted for, many residents beheld the devastation and said their survival was nothing short of a miracle.
Doneva Trombley and her family hid in their kitchen when they heard the tornado approaching.
"Mom was up against the stove. Gina was in this corner and I was in this corner," she told CBN News.
Trombley's 89-year-old mother Joaneveve was holding on to the family dog and praying.
"I tell you, I never thought I could talk that fast as I was when I sitting in the middle of the floor praying," she said.
Each of the women survived without a scratch, but that wasn't the only blessing. For the last two days, neighbors, friends and even strangers have been stopping by to lend a hand and help the Trombleys begin the cleanup.
Similar scenes are being repeated all over the small town. So many volunteers have stepped up to help that aid organizations have had to turn them away. But some wanted so badly to help, they wouldn't take no for an answer.
"My husband and I wanted to do something so we went to Walmart last night and this morning, got up and boiled 800 hot dogs, and we're just out here doing what we can to help," Shannon Creviston explained as she gave out free hot dogs to passersby in a demolished neighborhood.
Area churches are also stepping up in a big way. A Christian youth center partnered with CBN's Operation Blessing International to collect and distribute thousands of pounds of food, clothing and other necessities. Other churches around town are reaching out to those in need as well.
With thousands of people left homeless by the storm, the Christian community in Joplin will need all the help they can get for a long time to come.