I’m doing well and was not hit directly by the tornadoes even though it did major damage within a few miles of my residence, but the power and phone service is still out for nearly 400,000 people in North Alabama.
The article below explains a lot about what people are experiencing in the State after Wed deadly storms hit the area.
Path of destruction: The photos that show the utter devastation caused by worst natural disaster to hit U.S. since Katrina
By Daily Mail Reporter
Last updated at 6:59 PM on 30th April 2011
Daily Mail Reporter
Last updated at 6:59 PM on 30th April 2011.
- Current death toll is 249 in Alabama, 34 in Tennessee, 34 in Mississippi, 15 in Georgia, 5 in Virginia, 2 in Louisiana and 1 in Kentucky
- Up to 10,000 homes and businesses believed to be destroyed
- Obama: ‘I’ve never seen devastation like this’
- Looters at work stealing valuables from wrecked homes
- Insured losses of up to $5billion (£3billion) across the South
- Tornado outbreak is second deadliest on record and is worst natural disaster to hit the U.S. since Hurricane Katrina
It is a scene of utter devastation that stretches for miles into the distance. The image taken from the air shows the impact just one of more than 100 tornadoes, which ripped out the heart of Tuscaloosa, Alabama.
The scale of the disaster astonished President Obama as he flew across the southern states of the U.S on board Air Force One.
‘I’ve never seen
devastation like this. It is heartbreaking,’ he said, standing in bright
sunshine amid the wreckage in Tuscaloosa, where at least 45 people were
killed and entire neighbourhoods were flattened.
Path of destruction: The route that one tornado took through Tuscaloosa, Alabama, can be seen in the wreckage it left behind
Satellite images: Tuscaloosa, Alabama, in April 2006 (left) and a day after the tornado ploughed through on 28 April 2011
Satellite image: Before (right) and after showing tornado path through Pleasant Grove in Alabama
The death toll from the second deadliest U.S. tornado outbreak on record rose above 350 on today as thousands of stunned survivors camped out in the shattered shells of their homes or moved into shelters or with friends.
Some estimates putting the number of homes and buildings destroyed close to 10,000. State and federal authorities in the U.S. South were still coming to terms with the scale of the devastation from the country’s worst natural catastrophe since Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
One disaster risk modeler, EQECAT, is forecasting insured property losses of between $2billion and $5billion from the havoc inflicted by the swarm of violent twisters that gouged through seven southern states this week.
The President said: ‘What’s amazing is when
something like this happens folks forget all their petty differences. When we’re confronted by the awesome power of nature we are reminded
that all we have is each other.’
Scroll down for footage of April 27 tornadoes
Walkabout: President Barack Obama greets residents in the Alberta neighborhood in Tuscaloosa, as he inspected the tornado damage
From the air: Apartments in Tuscaloosa, Alabama that were completely flattened by the ferocious winds
Mr Obama and his wife Michelle
offered their condolences to
families trawling through the wreckage of their flattened homes after
what officials are now saying is the worst natural disaster to hit the
U.S. since hurricane Katrina.
The President vowed: ‘We’re going to make sure you are not forgotten.’
TORNADO CSI: HOW WEATHER SCIENTISTS ARE RETRACING THE PATHS OF THE MONSTERS
Weather scientists are retracing the footprints of this week’s monstrous tornadoes the way detectives would investigate a crime scene.
They are talking to witnesses, watching surveillance video and even taking the measurements of the trees ripped from the ground.
The result will be a meteorological autopsy report on the disaster, revealing once and for all how many twisters developed and how powerful they were.
The first priority is recovering the dead and caring for the survivors – but researchers hope to prevent future disasters with the information they can gather.
Researchers have to be on the scene fast — usually within days — to keep the scientific evidence as fresh as possible.
As they survey damage from the ground and air, researchers from the weather service and the national Storm Prediction Center are asking questions about the buildings that were destroyed. Were they brick or wood or a combination? Were they secured to a slab or set on concrete blocks? What type of roofs did they have?
Answers to those questions will help explain how the strong the twisters were. For example, a mobile home will be completely demolished by winds of 110 to 135 mph. But a well-built home can withstand much stronger winds.
Walt Zaleski, a warning coordination meteorologist for the weather service’s southern regional headquarters in Fort Worth, Texas, compared the scientific investigation of the storms to assembling a million-piece puzzle.
The task is so big, he said, that he is calling fellow meteorologists out of retirement to help, hoping their 30 or 40 years of experience will provide an extra level of expertise.
Investigators will also try to determine whether the storms that hit Tuscaloosa and other places were a single tornado criss-crossing the entire state of Alabama or more than one.
If it was a single twister, it would be one of the longest on record, rivalling a 1925 tornado that raged for 219 miles.
When their assessment is complete, the picture that emerges will help forecasters better understand how killer systems develop.
later, Mr Obama signed disaster declarations for Mississippi and
Georgia, in addition to one he had authorised for Alabama.
in Alabama was one of the worst affected areas and emerging pictures
show how a once picturesque county has been reduced to a disaster zone
in a matter of minutes.
The Mayor Walt Maddox called the devastation “a humanitarian crisis” for his city of more than 83,000.
if not thousands of people were injured on Wednesday – 990 in
Tuscaloosa alone – and as many as one million Alabama homes and
businesses remained without power.
The Wood Lawn area of Tuscaloosa County has been one of the
worst affected, with at least three dead including one child aged around five.
Resident said three bodies had been pulled out of the
wreckage of a house which was ‘totally flattened’.
Around half of the homes in the neighbourhood were either
completely destroyed or rendered uninhabitable.
Six students were in the Central Church of Christ, hiding
in a cinderblock closet, when the tornado struck but somehow walked out alive.
When they emerged from behind the door the 50ft-high
steeple had been destroyed and the building looked like it had been punched
The area right next to them had been turned from a church
hall into a mangled wreck of foam, steel girders, bricks and plastic.
‘We just could not believe we walked away from that,’
said Caleb Bradford, 21, who was one of the six in the closet. ‘God must have been looking down on us. I took one look
at the damage and said, “My god”.
The Mayor Walt Maddox called the devastation ‘a humanitarian crisis’ for his city of more than 83,000.
Resident said three bodies had been pulled out of the
wreckage of a house which was ‘totally flattened’.
with unexpected speed in several states, and the difference between
life and death was hard to fathom. Four people died in Bledsoe County,
Tennessee, but a family survived being tossed across a road in their
modular home, which was destroyed, Mayor Bobby Collier said.
residents whose homes were blown to pieces were seeing their losses
worsen – not by nature, but by man. In Tuscaloosa and other cities,
looters have been picking through the wreckage to steal what little the
victims have left.
‘The first night they took my jewellery, my watch, my guns,’ Shirley Long said.
‘They were out here again last night doing it again.’
Overwhelmed Tuscaloosa police imposed a curfew and got help from National Guard troops to try to stop the scavenging.
Damage: Hundreds of cars were destroyed, such as these in Tuscaloosa, as they were flung about by strong winds
Before the storm: The Central Church as it stood before April 27. Six students were inside the church, hiding in a cinderblock closet, when the tornado truck
Survivors: Caleb Durden, Andrew Broadfoot, Caleb Bradford and Kyle Henderson, who were all in the church when it was destroyed. Mr Bradford, 21, said: ‘God must have been looking down on us’
their flattened paths, the twisters blew down police and fire stations
and other emergency buildings along with homes, businesses, churches and
The number of buildings lost and people left
homeless remained unclear two days later, in part because the storm also
ravaged communications systems.
emergency management centre was destroyed, so officials used space in
one of the city’s most prominent buildings – the University of Alabama’s
Bryant-Denny Stadium – as a substitute before moving operations to the
Alabama Fire College.
Less than two weeks ago, the stadium hosted more
than 90,000 fans for the football team’s spring intra-squad Red-White
Looting: Reports have emerged of people picking through the wreckage and stealing valuable belongings
Neighbourhood: Jesus Gomez, 8, and his father Jesus are dwarfed by the storm damage in Tuscaloosa, Alabama
Rescue: Pennington Gap firefighter Chris Collins, centre, pulls a Jack Russell terrier out of the wreckage of a destroyed mobile home
Tornadoes are pictured moving through Mississippi in a still image taken from video
A fire station was destroyed in nearby Alberta City, one of the city’s worst-hit neighbourhoods. The firefighters survived, but damage to their equipment forced them to begin rescue operations without a fire truck, Fire Chief Alan Martin said.
Also wiped out was a Salvation Army building, costing Tuscaloosa much-needed shelter space. And that is just part of the problem in providing emergency aid, said Sister Carol Ann Gray, of the local Catholic Social Services office.
‘It has been extremely difficult to co-ordinate because so many people have been affected – some of the very same people you’d look to for assistance,’ she added.
Emergency services were stretched particularly thin about 90 miles to the north in the demolished town of Hackleburg, Alabama, where officials were keeping the dead in a refrigerated truck amid a body bag shortage. At least 27 people were killed there and the search for missing people continued, with FBI agents fanning out to local hospitals to help.
Damage in Hackleburg was catastrophic, said Stanley Webb, chief agent in the county’s drug task force.
‘When we talk about these homes, they are not damaged. They are gone,’ he said.
‘House go bye bye’: Mr Britt said he covered his family with mattresses as the tornado ripped up his home. Afterwards he said his two-year-old daughter said ‘The house go bye bye’
Utter devastation: Wesley Britt’s family home at 2001 1st Avenue in Tuscaloosa. He has spray painted his address on the brick chimney, all that remains of the property
‘I JUST FEEL LUCKY TO BE HERE’
Edward McDaniel survived having the roof torn off his
one-storey home even though he was inside.
The 29-year-old city inspector said: ‘I was watching on
the TV when they said that anybody in Midtown Tuscaloosa should take cover when
it cut out.
‘I knew it was coming so I got my recliner and took it
into the hall and put it on top of me.
‘Everything started shaking and there was this huge noise
for about 30 seconds, then I looked up and saw the roof being taken off and
‘The tornado picked it up and carried it off in mid air
over the houses on the other side of the street. It was intact and just flying
through the air.
I just feel lucky to be here’.
Former pro football player Wesley Britt saved his entire
family when the tornado struck by hiding them under a mattress then jumping on
The 29-yer-old was home with his wife Katie, 29, their
one-year-old son, their two-year-old daughter, both of his wife’s sisters and
one of her friends when the storm arrived.
‘I just got everyone downstairs and got them into the
back of the house where I thought it was safest,’ he said. ‘I told all six of them to get on the floor and put a
chest of drawers next to them then threw two mattress on the top and stood over
them bracing myself for impact.
‘The roof fell in and I was holding it up so it didn’t
fall and crush them and I got hit in the face by a flying book.
‘It sounded like you were on the subway when you can hear
the air roaring through a tunnel. When it stopped my two year old girl got up and said to
me: “The house go bye bye!”.’
Mr Britt has been forced to spray paint his address on all that remains of his home – the brick chimney – so the insurance assessor will be able to find it when
One catastrophe risk modeler estimates the storms to have caused insurance losses of up to £3billion.
Another woman who survived the tornado was Rebecca
Goostree, 53, who hid in her closet with her mother Mary, 82.
Ms Goostree said: ‘I was watching TV with my mother when we could
hear it coming towards us.’
‘We ran into the closet in the kitchen and shut the door
and then the wind started. It got so loud then you could hear chunks being
taken off the house and thrown around.
‘It only lasted about one minute but when we came out
there was a huge hole where the kitchen used to be. I looked out the hole and the 40ft tree in our garden
had just vanished.
Clean-up operation: Neighbours and friends help out Rebecca Goostree as she tries to make sense of the jumble that used to be her mother’s home
Among the lucky ones: Despite the twister smashing up their home, Ms Goostree and her mother say neighbours just down the road lost everything, with their house totally demolished
‘There were two two-storey houses out the back and they
had been totally demolished. There were two boys standing in the middle of the
one on the left as if the house had just collapsed around them. How they survived I don’t know.’
The house belongs to Ms Gostree’s mother, who is now
staying with her on the other side of town.
Relatives and volunteers had been turning up throughout
the day to salvage what they could and take it to storage before insurers could
asses the damage.
‘My mother is going to have to stay with me but we are
just lucky she is alive,’ said Ms Goostree.
Another woman who lost her home was Mary Gaddis, 74, who
had been living in the bungalow for the last 25 years.
‘The only thing we could save were a few dishes, everything else is gone,’ she
said, sitting outside the mass of bricks, a TV, a stereo, chairs and wood that
her home had become.
Her husband Buddy, 79, added: ‘I don’t know what we’re
going to do.’
Despite the tragedy and isolated reports of criminal activity, the response of the community has been overwhelmingly
positive, with hundreds of volunteers marching into town from the suburbs and
setting up posts on street corners – where they are handing out water and food.
Hundreds of volunteers have lined up at mobile blood
banks to donate, and hardware stores have handed over truckloads of generators so
that residents have power.
‘We don’t want another Katrina,’ said one local radio
host. ‘We’re getting out there and helping people ourselves’.
Among the other remarkable stories was a woman who found
a letter on her front lawn – which was delivered to a house 80 miles away.