It has been almost a year since a massive F-5 tornado ripped through Joplin, MO, killing 161 people.
But as the somber anniversary approaches, there are incredible stories of restoration and survival to be found everywhere.
Not far from St. John's Hospital, one of the hardest hit places in the city, is where a powerful story of a 10-year-old boy who showed a lot of courage begins.
Nicholas Jackson keeps busy with school at Duneweg Duquesne Elementary, where he takes violin lessons and plays baseball. He has a busy schedule.
Jackson said last year he was on the way home from a graduation and had just pulled in to the driveway with his mom and dad. The next thing he knew, the tornado was inching closer and closer to the car in the driveway.
He says he remembers that night like it was yesterday.
"My mom told me to put a sweater over my sister's head, and she wouldn't keep it on and before the glass broke in the car, I threw myself over my sister so she wouldn't get hurt and then my mom threw herself over me and my brother," said Nicholas Jackson, who protected his sister during the tornado.
Jackson said he would do it all over again, but does not considered himself a hero.
His mom said they lost everything in the tornado but were able to rebuild over the summer.
There is still much to be done to help rebuild Joplin, but the progress so far has been incredible.
The F-5 tornado that leveled a third of Joplin destroyed St. Paul's Methodist Church. But a year later, the steeple is reaching for the same sky that tore it down.
All over the city, new homes are being built.
Of the businesses destroyed 446 of the 553 have reopened, and a new playground in the city's main park is becoming a big draw for families.
KCTV5 will have live reports from Joplin on every edition of KCTV5 News on Monday and Tuesday.
President Obama will deliver the commencement address for Joplin High School on Monday night at Missouri Southern State University. KCTV5.com will livestream the speech at 7 p.m.
Copyright 2012 KCTV (Meredith Corp.) All rights reserved.
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