Storms kill 45 across 6 states; damage widespread

Source: Andrew Phillips
Source: Andrew Phillips

By The Associated Press

Here is a look at six states hit hard by twisters that carved their way through the South, killing at least 45 people. More than 240 tornadoes were reported from the storm system.

NORTH CAROLINA: At least 21 were killed by Saturday's storms that spawned some 60 tornadoes in the southeastern part of the state. One of hardest hit areas was Bertie County, where 11 people died. Gov. Beverly Perdue says federal help is expected to help clean up the devastation that nearly brought her to tears. Saturday was North Carolina's deadliest day for tornadoes since 1984, when 22 killed 42 people and injured hundreds.

"I can replace the house, but I can't replace my babies. And that's what I thought about. I'm alive. My babies are alive." - Askewville's Justin Dunlow who survived along with his two young children when winds ripped to shreds their doublewide mobile home.

VIRGINIA: At least seven have been killed, three of whom in Gloucester County where a tornado cut a 12-mile swath, uprooting trees, destroying homes and injuring dozens. The tornado ripped the roof off Page Middle School and overturned school buses and cars. Flooding also is a problem in the state. Flash flooding killed two Waynesboro residents and several people were rescued from rising water.

"She'd put her kids in the bathtub and got on top of them. The tornado blew the house off the foundation, and everything in the house shattered, and is flattened to the ground." - Gloucester's Randy Cook walking through debris of sister's home.

ALABAMA: Seven were killed across the state and Gov. Robert Bentley has declared a state of emergency for all counties. The first race of a busy weekend at the Talladega Superspeedway was postponed until Saturday morning. Thousands of people were camping in open fields and getting ready for three days of races and they all made it through the storms. Four separate tornadoes hit Marengo County over the span of about five to six hours.

"The tornado hit and jumped and hit and jumped again. It would do some damage and then move on." - Autauga County Chief Deputy Sheriff Joe Sedinger about Boone's Chapel where three adult family members were killed Friday by tornado that ripped through homes.

ARKANSAS: Seven people were killed including a woman and her 8-year-old son when winds knocked a tree into their home in the capital city of Little Rock. Five others died as powerful straight-line winds blew through. All but one of the deaths occurred when people, including three children, were crushed by falling trees.

"I don't recall anything even approaching this." - Gov. Mike Beebe.

OKLAHOMA: Casualties from the storm system started in the state on Thursday when two older people were killed in the small town of Tushka and dozens were injured. Gov. Mary Fallin has declared a state of emergency for 26 counties as at least five tornadoes touched down, four in the southeastern part of the state and a fifth in the central part of the state.

"We're trying to salvage what we can. It's devastating. It's just horrible. Thank God we have so much help." - Tushka's Stacy George, who lives across the street from a school where the second story of the main building collapsed into the first.

MISSISSIPPI: One person was killed when at least three tornadoes hit the state on Friday. A state of emergency was declared for 14 counties. Some of the worst damage was in Clinton where a portion of a bank blew onto the interstate.

"You could just feel the house fall down. The whole back side of the house is gone. All you could see was this black cloud." - 23-year-old Phillip Gregory who got home about the time a tornado was forming in his neighborhood in Clinton, just west of Jackson. He and family members huddled in a bathtub.

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