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Associated Press, Published May 21 2012

Minot group participating in ceremonies marking Joplin tornado

MINOT, N.D. — Four residents from the flood-ravaged North Dakota city of Minot are taking part in ceremonies in Joplin, Mo., to mark the anniversary of the country's deadliest single tornado in six decades.

The twister a year ago Tuesday killed 161 people, injured hundreds more and destroyed thousands of buildings. Minot also is recovering from a disaster — record Souris River flooding last summer forced about 11,000 people from their homes and damaged more than 4,000 homes and businesses.

The group from Minot that is going to Joplin this week includes City Council President Dean Frantsvog, elementary school principal Tracey Lawson, fourth-grade student Samantha Senger and her mother, Amy Senger.

"Natural disasters impact people and communities in so many ways," Frantsvog said in a statement. "It is encouraging to connect in a unique way with others who suffered so greatly in 2011 and are still working hard to rebuild lives, families and their city. The city of Minot looks forward to participating in a small way in providing hope as well as receiving hope."

As part of the ceremonies, Samantha Senger will receive a "Star of Hope" from a Joplin child. The program that aims to provide hope through art projects is run through the New York Says Thank You Foundation, set up after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. The Foundation plans to put Stars of Hope throughout the Minot flood zone later this year. Joplin community service organizers say they also plan to send a group of students and community members to Minot at some point.

Minot also is planning to mark the anniversary of its disaster with a June 22-23 event called the "Weekend of Hope: Return to Oak Park." The city park and surrounding neighborhood were in the heart of the flood zone.

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.