Over 220 killed in tornado ravaged US

2011-04-28 20:27

Birmingham - Tornadoes and storms carved a trail of destruction across the southern United States, killing over 220 people in one of region's worst weather disasters in years, officials said on Thursday.

The severe weather killed 131 people in the state of Alabama alone on Wednesday, authorities said, and President Barack Obama said Washington would be rushing assistance to the battered southeastern state.

States of emergency were declared in Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, Tennessee and Oklahoma, and governors called out the National Guard to help with rescue and clean-up operations.

In all, state officials reported at least 227 people dead, but as the residents and emergency workers began to mop up and assess the damage the toll was likely to rise.

The National Weather Service (NWS) had preliminary reports of more than 300 tornadoes since storms began Friday, including more than 130 on Wednesday alone.

Alabama was especially badly hit, caught by two lines of storms and an evening tornado that tore through the city of Tuscaloosa, home to the University of Alabama.

Tuscaloosa Mayor Walter Maddox told CNN the tornado had "obliterated blocks and blocks" of his city, leaving 36 people dead there.

"Infrastructure has been absolutely devastated," he said on Thursday. "When you look at this path of destruction, likely eight to 11km long and up to 1km wide, I don't know how anyone survived.

"There are parts of this city I don't recognize.... It is a dark hour for our city," he added.

It rained two-by-fours 

A tornado also struck the city of Birmingham. "This has been a very serious and deadly event that's affected our state, and it's not over yet," Alabama Governor Robert Brantley told reporters.

Stunned Birmingham residents assessed the damage early on Thursday, some counting their blessings to still be alive, others distraught over the loss of their loved ones or homes.

"There were two-by-fours (wooden beams) falling out of the sky," convenience store manager Jack Welch said, adding "there were well over 30 homes destroyed" just behind his store in Birmingham.

Some property swept up by the killer twisters was found 80km away, as power was knocked out to many communities.

The Tuesday-Wednesday storms are believed to be the deadliest US natural disaster since Hurricane Katrina of 2005, and Accuweather.com said the tornadoes were the worst since 310 people were killed on April 3 1974.

In Mississippi the storm killed 32 people and caused damage in 50 of its 82 counties, according to Greg Flynn at the state's emergency management agency.

State officials reported at least 30 dead in Tennessee, 11 killed in Arkansas, 13 killed in Georgia, seven in Virginia, and another three killed in Missouri, with the overall toll likely to rise.

"Oh my God, our town is in pieces," said Tim Holt, a clerk at a local hotel in Ringgold, Georgia. "We saw the funnel cloud coming and I ran into the bathroom with my wife and daughter."

"It's an 80% loss in our town," he added.

Trapped

"We have major devastation in the city of Ringgold," Catoosa County Sheriff Phil Summers acknowledged to reporters on Thursday.

Storm victims across the region were trapped in homes, trailers and cars by falling trees. Hail the size of golf balls cracked windows.

Roads were washed out or rendered impassable by fallen trees and power lines across the region. Homes, schools and businesses were flattened, flooded and set on fire by lightning.

Another major storm system is forecast to bring heavy rain and high winds on Saturday. The storms come after a wet spring and a winter of heavy snowfall which has left the ground saturated and rivers running high.

The NWS issued a rare "high-risk" warning of tornadoes, hail, flash flooding and dangerous lightning for parts of Alabama, Georgia and Mississippi.

It warned that severe weather could also strike 21 states from the Great Lakes down to the Gulf Coast and across to the Atlantic, and tornadoes were reported as far east as Virginia and Maryland.

Officials were considering deliberately destroying levees in some areas to ease pressure on swollen rivers, some of which are so high that barges have become trapped under bridges.

As much as 450mm of rain had fallen from Saturday through Tuesday night in some areas.

Read more on:    us  |  weather  |  floods
NEXT ON NEWS24X

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
0 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
 

'Zuma's legacy will be judged by Nkandla'

The legacy of President Jacob Zuma is contingent on how he deals with the issue of upgrades to his Nkandla homestead, says Cape Town Archbishop Thabo Makgoba.

 
 

Latest elections multimedia

Why Jack Parow wants you to vote on 7 May
The ad the SABC doesn't want to air
Elections 2014 in one cartoon
This year's election posters
 
Traffic
Lottery
 
  • Thursday Sir Lowry's Pass - 05:35 AM
    Road name: Old Sir Lowrys Pass Road
    TRAFFIC LIGHTS not working at Bezweni Road
  • Thursday Cape Town - 05:35 AM
    Road name: Buitengracht Street
    TRAFFIC LIGHTS not working at Waterkant Street
 
More traffic reports...
 

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Escape winter, head to Mauritius

Escape winter by spending 7 nights in Mauritius' tropical bliss from R13 215 per person sharing. Includes return flights, airport transfers and accommodation. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Get many eggs in one basket!

Gaming bundles: 2 Super Hits games for R99, 3 Disney games for R99 and more + exclusive accessory bundles only available on kalahari.com. While stocks last. Shop now!

25% off bestselling books!

The Real Meal Revolution by Tim Noakes, Jeffrey Archer’s Be Careful What You Wish for, Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor E. Frank and many more titles. Shop now!

Up to 25% off electronics

Buy top electronics and save up to 25%. Such as kalahari.com’s 1# selling product the gobii eReader, Patriot X Porter flash drive, Asus Nexus 7” 3G tablet, Samsung Galaxy SIII, Lenovo G580 Notebook and many more. Shop now!

DStv HD PVR Decoder now R949

The DStv HD PVR Decoder has further revolutionised the television experience with lifelike viewing, sharper images, more vibrant colours and precision picture quality. Now R949, save R550. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 30% off appliances & homeware

Save up to 30% on appliances and homeware this Easter! Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now.

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

BlackBerry Bold 9780

BlackBerry 6 Engage your world with BlackBerry 6 OS on the...

From R3049.00

I'm shopping for:

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

You may be good at organising events but they do take their toll on your energy levels. You may need some time out today just to...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.