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Exclusive: Return to Normal 'Many Months' Away, Missouri Gov. Says

Julie Denesha/Getty Images(JOPLIN, Mo.) -- The death toll from a vicious tornado that ripped through Joplin, Missouri, has risen to at least 122 as searchers claw through rubble hoping to find survivors.

The search for survivors is gaining new urgency with the forecast of another storm bearing down on the city with the threat of more tornadoes.

The massive Joplin tornado was rated as an EF-5, the strongest classification with winds greater than 200 mph. The nearly mile-wide funnel touched down at 5:41 p.m. CT Sunday and blasted a six mile wide path through the city and left trapped survivors crying out for help.

In an interview with ABC News Radio, Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon said the Tuesday morning sunrise gave crews a boost, but also a dose of reality.

"Over these last two dark and windy and rainy days, everybody's been focused, kind of looking," the governor told ABC News. "They can only see three feet in front of them. That's where they've been working. This morning, as the sun rose and you see the sun on this devastation, you realize it's going to be many, many months before this is back to normal."

Asked whether he thinks rescue teams will be able to pull any more survivors from the devastation, Nixon said, "We still think there's a chance."

"We've got two sectors we're trying to clear…We had seventeen folks that were saved yesterday. We're hoping that we can dig out some others that are in the bottom of some apartment complexes," the governor said.

President Obama said he plans to visit the twister-torn area on Sunday after he returns from his trip to Europe.

"Knowing that the full power of FEMA and the federal government will be here to assist us is a calming influence," Nixon said.

Donate to the Tornado Relief Effort

To make a donation to the American Red Cross' Disaster Relief, visit its online donation page. You can also call 1-800-RED-CROSS or text "REDCROSS" to 90999 to make a $10 donation.

To donate to the United Way, visit its online donation page.

The Salvation Army's emergency disaster services teams are helping to feed residents and first responders in Joplin, Reading, Kan., and parts of Minnesota affected by the storms. To donate to the The Salvation Army's efforts, visit and click on the donation page. You can call 1-800-SAL-ARMY and donors can text "GIVE" to 80888 to make a $10 donation.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio