Reporting from Joplin, Mo. — When the demonic twister struck Joplin, killing at least 122 people, it sheared the roof off the Home Depot and toppled its front wall -- a massive concrete slab more than 8 inches thick.
Several people were crushed beneath the slab, and the store became the focus of a complicated recovery effort.
At least one crew -- the Missouri Task Force 1 urban rescue team, based in Boone County, Mo. -- drilled 2-inch holes through concrete to drop small cameras into the space beneath to find victims.
The highly trained, all-volunteer task force cut through layers of concrete and steel using diamond-bladed saws and high-powered torches normally used to cut through hulls of submarines.
The team leader, Doug Westhoff, called the work "heart-wrenching." The crew found eight people dead, the most recent Tuesday morning.
"There was a guy who recognized his son-in-law's truck in the parking lot," Westhoff said, pointing to a crushed pickup nearby. "He just knew his grandkids and his son-in-law were in the store. And he was right."
Pearce is a special correspondent.