Joplin two months later

It's been two months since a EF5 tornado ripped through the heart of Joplin, Missouri.

It was hard to believe the pictures from that devastated city.

Your compassion prompted fundraisers and supply collections all over the Tri-States.

And your generosity helped us here at KHQA raise more than $23,000 and a semi trailer full of donations.

We wanted to see for ourselves how the city is doing now.

No matter which way you point a camera, you capture the devastation and heartbreak felt by the thousands of people in Joplin. No matter what scene you see, nothing compares to the sinking feeling in your stomach when you stand in the middle of it. Tornado alley is massive...three quarters of a mile across and 22 miles long.

Joplin residents are living through the destruction every day. But despite the deaths of 159 people, and the thousands of homes and businesses destroyed, you can't miss this town's amazing sense of optimism and appreciation for life. Take Sam Pickett. This father of five lost his home when the tornado ripped his life apart. He is one of more than 50 families living in this tent city. Although he doesn't have a roof over his head or a penny to his name, he's trying to look on the bright side. He's selling homelessness to his kids as an extended camping trip.

"There's a lot of people who are in worse situations every day. If you got your kids and your family who is there to support you it's really not so bad."

"The damage here in Joplin is more widespread than you can just physically see. There are hundreds of families who did not see a tornado touch down around their home, but had their income swept away by the tornado that destroyed more than 300 businesses. Take for instance St. John's Mercy Hospital. More than 600 people lost their jobs when this hospital was destroyed.

Despite the tragedy, life goes on. Folks head to work on their daily commute past the neighborhoods that once stood here. Mechanical claws are at work on every block methodically gathering up garbage that used to be the homes and possessions of those who lived here. Only when the clean-up is over will the city allow homeowners to get building permits to begin the next chapter of their lives.

Like the weight of this school bus on this tree, what's been lost weighs heavy on the minds of everyone here.

But there are signs this city is coming back.

Here on the School's Marquee where only the O and the P could hold on during the twister, someone filled in the missing letters to spell hope.

These stubborn trees are coming back, much like the residents here. Many like Pickett have roots here and aren't going anywhere...even if its not pretty.

"There is still something there, you just have to work hard to get it."