Toddler found in field after tornado dies

2012-03-05 09:00
Lisa Lyons recovers personal items from debris for her friend whose house was damaged after a tornado hit the village of Moscow, Ohio. (David Kohl, AP)

Lisa Lyons recovers personal items from debris for her friend whose house was damaged after a tornado hit the village of Moscow, Ohio. (David Kohl, AP)

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Louisville - A toddler found in a field after violent tornadoes died on Sunday after being taken off life support, ending a hopeful tale for survivors in the Midwest and South picking through the storms' devastation.

The girl's death brings the overall toll from Friday's storms to 39 across five states.

Rescuers were still going door-to-door in rural areas to rule out more victims. Another round of storms earlier last week killed 13 people, the latest in a string of severe-weather episodes ravaging the American heartland in the past year.

Fifteen-month-old Angel Babcock of New Pekin, Indiana, was found after her family's mobile home was destroyed in Friday's storms. Her father, mother and two siblings were killed.

When Angel arrived at Kosair Children's Hospital in Louisville on Friday night, she was opening her eyes — a hopeful sign, chief nursing officer Cis Gruebbel said.

Things turned on Saturday, when the swelling in her brain didn't decrease, he said. As the day went on, her eyes ceased to move and she continued to deteriorate. There was no sign of brain activity.

Reunited

Medical staff told the family there wasn't anything more they could do. With extended family gathered to say goodbye, the family made the decision to end life support on Sunday.

"Angel has been reunited with her parents," her grandfather, Jack Brough, said in a statement. "We want to thank God for all of you and for your thoughts and prayers. God will bring you and all of us out of this. This is what it will take. All should look to God."

On Sunday, people gathered to worship, comb through piles of debris and learn what happened to loved ones and friends, often without modern technology to help.

Cellphone signals were hard to find, internet was out and electricity indefinitely interrupted. In many cases, word-of-mouth conversations replaced text messages, Facebook status updates and phone calls.

"It's horrible. It's things you take for granted that aren't there anymore," said Jack Cleveland, aged 50, a Census Bureau worker from Henryville, Indiana.

At Sunday's mass at St Francis Xavier Catholic Church in Henryville, Father Steve Schaftlein turned the church into an information exchange, asking the 100 or so in attendance to stand up and share what they knew.

Powerless

While it could be days before power and cell service are fully restored to the damaged areas, crews were making progress on Sunday. In Indiana, about 2 800 homes were without power, down from 8 000 in the hours after the storms.

But in some hard-hit areas, like Henryville, a substation and transmission lines need to be rebuilt, and that could take up to a week.

Almost 19 000 customers were without power in Kentucky, according to the state's Public Service Commission, and a few thousand more from municipal utilities and TVA, which the PSC does not track.

Cellphone companies were trying to help residents by setting up mobile charging and e-mail stations so they could communicate while power and cell service was still difficult to find. They also brought in portable towers to boost signals, and service was improving on Sunday.


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