JOPLIN, MO (KTVI) – Sunday was an emotional day for Joplin. The community marked the 5-year anniversary of a devastating tornado. 161 lives were lost to the 2011 twister. Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon attended two events Sunday.
The first event was the Joplin High School graduation. He told the class of 2016 they helped inspire the rest of the state with their resiliency. The district’s high school was destroyed in the twister.
“Some of you lost family and friends. Some of you were injured. Many of you lost your homes,” said Nixon. “But what you never lost was your spirit.”
Graduating senior Emily Huddleston was inside a car tossed several blocks by the twister. She’s undergone multiple surgeries and re-learned how to walk.
“Sometimes I break down and I cry,” said Huddleston. “Other times I look at it and say, wow look how far I’ve come.” She said it just depends on the day.
Gov. Nixon also attended a ceremony at a park in Joplin where a tribute stands to those who lost their lives. Many residents expressed pride over how for the city has come since 2011.
“We’re stronger than we were before, and everybody has just so much more compassion,” said Joplin resident Jane Case. “You don’t take things for granted anymore. Tornado's change your life.”