Today's Coming Crisis Movie

Friday, April 29, 2011

Southern US Tornadoes death toll now at 300+ ...and the storm season is far from over yet

Tornadoes and violent storms tore through seven Southern states, killing at least 306 people and causing billions of dollars of damage in one of the deadliest swarm of twisters in US history.

President Barack Obama described the loss of life as "heartbreaking" and called the damage to homes and businesses "nothing short of catastrophic." He promised strong federal support for rebuilding and plans to view the damage on Friday.

Over several days this week, the powerful tornadoes - more than 160 reported in total - combined with storms to cut a swath of destruction heading west to east.

It was the worst US natural disaster since Hurricane Katrina in 2005, which killed up to 1,800 people.

In some areas, whole neighborhoods were flattened, cars flipped over and trees and power lines felled, leaving tangled wreckage.

While rescue officials searched for survivors, some who sheltered in bathtubs, closets and basements told of miraculous escapes.

"I made it. I got in a closet, put a pillow over my face and held on for dear life because it started sucking me up," said Angela Smith of Tuscaloosa, Alabama, one of the worst-hit cities.

In Birmingham, Alabama, which was also hard hit, Police Chief A.C. Roper said rescue workers sifted through rubble "hand to hand" on Thursday to pull people from destroyed homes.

"We even rescued two babies, one that was trapped in a crib when the house fell down on top of the baby," Roper said in an interview on PBS NewsHour. (read more)