On Wednesday, Alabama and other parts of the South were hit hard by back to back tornadoes. These tornadoes have killed at least 214 people over a span of six states. This area hasn’t experience such a deadly slew of storms in almost 40 years. In 1974, 315 people were killed says Dave Imy, a meteorologist. Oklahoma‘s National Weather Service’s Storm Prediction Center received 137 tornado reports Wednesday night—and that number kept rising. In Alabama, 131 deaths were confirmed according to the state’s emergency management agency. It also confirmed 32 deaths in Mississippi, 29 in Tennessee, 13 in Georgia, eight in Virginia and one in Kentucky.
The storms came through hard and fast. Even with the warnings, many were surprised by the tornadoes.
Jerry Stewart is a 63-year-old retired firefighter. He said, “It happened so fast it was unbelievable. 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 family hid under their porch to survive the storm. Others did the same but didn’t make it. Much of the worst damage was in Tuscaloosa, home to over 83,000 people.
Many are without power and shelter and are missing relatives and friends in the rubble. Governor Robert Bentley spoke with President Obama and asked for emergency assistance which was approved. About 2,000 national guard troops arrived to help with the search for anyone still missing in the storm’s debris. The President issued a statement saying, “Our hearts go out to all those who have been affected by this devastation, and we commend the heroic efforts of those who have been working tirelessly to respond to this disaster.”