TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Survivors and rescuers combed through destroyed towns and neighborhoods on Thursday, looking for belongings and victims after dozens of tornadoes ripped through the South overnight. The death toll continued to climb in Alabama, and at least 280 people in six states perished in the deadliest outbreak in nearly 40 years.Read the rest here.
People in hard-hit Alabama surveyed flattened, debris-strewn neighborhoods and told of pulling bodies from rubble after the storms passed.
"We have neighborhoods that have been basically removed from the map," Tuscaloosa Mayor Walter Maddox said after surveying his city.
"It happened so fast it was unbelievable," said Jerry Stewart, a 63-year-old retired firefighter who was picking through the remains of his son's home in Pleasant Grove, a suburb of Birmingham. "They said the storm was in Tuscaloosa and it would be here in 15 minutes. And before I knew it, it was here."
He and his wife, along with their daughter and two grandchildren, survived by hiding under their front porch. Friends who did the same weren't so lucky — Stewart said he pulled out the bodies of two neighbors whose home was ripped off its foundation.
Samantha Nail surveyed the damage in the blue-collar subdivision of Pleasant Grove where hers was the only home still intact. The storm slammed heavy pickup trucks into ditches and obliterated tidy brick houses, leaving behind a mess of mattresses, electronics and children's toys scattered across a grassy plain where dozens used to live.