Tornadoes Blamed For At Least 28 Deaths

By: Associated Press Email
By: Associated Press Email

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Saturday, March 3, 2012

A string of violent storms scratched away small towns in Indiana and cut off rural communities in Kentucky as an early-season tornado outbreak killed nearly 30 people, and authorities feared the already ugly death toll would rise as daylight broke on Saturday's search for survivors.

Massive thunderstorms, predicted by forecasters for days, threw off dozens of tornadoes as they raced Friday from the Gulf Coast to the Great Lakes. Twisters that crushed entire blocks of homes knocked out cellphones and landlines alike, ripped power lines from broken poles and tossed cars, school buses and tractor-trailers onto roadways made impassable by debris.

Weather that put millions of people at risk Friday killed 28, but the both the scale of the devastation and the breadth of the storms made an immediate assessment of the havoc's full extent all but impossible.

In Kentucky, the National Guard and state police headed out to search wreckage for an unknown number of missing. In Indiana, authorities searched dark county roads connecting rural communities that officials said "are completely gone."

"We won't know what's going on before daybreak," cautioned Sheriff's Maj. Chuck Adams of the Clark County, Ind., where one person was known to have died in hard-hit Henryville. "Right now, we're getting by through the night as best we can."

For those still in the town of about 2,000 north of Louisville, Ky., the birthplace of Kentucky Fried Chicken founder Col. Harland Sanders, that meant walking down littered streets with shopping carts full of water and food, handing it out to anyone in need. Hundreds of firefighters and police zipped around a town where few recognizable structures remained; all of Henryville's schools were destroyed.

UPDATE: Friday, March 2, 2012

Authorities say tornadoes have left widespread damage in southern Indiana and a sheriff's official says at least one town is "completely gone."

National Weather Service coordinator Bill Whitlock says the agency is tracking "extreme damage" in the Henryville area, about 20 miles north of Louisville, Ky.

Clark County Sheriff's Department Maj. Chuck Adams says the nearby town of Marysville is "completely gone."

Authorities have not confirmed any injuries or fatalities.

UPDATE: Friday, March 2, 2012

Tornado watches now cover parts of a half-dozen states -- Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee, Missouri, Illinois and Indiana.

Forecasters at the Storm Prediction Center in Oklahoma say they're bracing for what could be a dangerous tornado outbreak. One forecaster says it's the kind of risk they see maybe five times a year.

Apparent tornadoes have already done some damage in northern Alabama today -- destroying houses, sending people to hospitals and tearing up the roof of a maximum-security prison.

Thousands of schoolchildren in several states were sent home from school as a precaution.

The storms are arriving two days after a storm system killed 13 people in the Midwest and South.

UPDATE: Friday, March 2, 2012

A maximum security prison in northern Alabama has been hit by a reported tornado. And authorities say several houses in the region have been destroyed.

Police in Huntsville says people have been taken to hospitals with injuries. Emergency managers say homes were "leveled."

At the prison, according to a Department of Corrections spokesman, there are no reports of injuries, and all of the inmates are secured. He says the roof was damaged on two large prison dormitories that each hold about 250 men. According to the spokesman a part of the prison fence was knocked down, but no one has escaped.

The storms come two days after a storm system killed 13 people in the Midwest and South. Forecasters have been warning of severe thunderstorms today with the threat of tornadoes crossing a region from southern Ohio through much of Kentucky into Tennessee, Alabama and Georgia.

March 2, 2012

Emergency management officials in northern Alabama say houses have been destroyed by what they describe as a tornado.

There was no immediate word on any injuries Friday. But the Huntsville-Madison County Emergency Management Office says ambulances are responding to neighborhoods near Huntsville.

Thousands of Alabama schoolchildren are getting out of class early because the threat of tornadoes and other severe weather across the northern half of the state.

More than 20 school systems say they are dismissing classes early Friday because of the possibility of severe storms. Otherwise, the bad weather could hit around the time schools normally dismiss for the day, based on predictions from the National Weather Service.

A state corrections official says a reported tornado in northern Alabama hit a state prison but there was no immediate word on damages or injuries.

Corrections spokesman Brian Corbette said Friday a tornado hit the Limestone Correctional Facility, a prison in Limestone County.

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