By Erin Butterfield
A week and a half ago a number of powerful tornadoes plowed through much of the South, killing people and destroying entire towns in six states. Although many people were killed and injured all over the south, the worst of the damage happened in Alabama, in particular in Tuscaloosa. The mayor of Tuscaloosa, Walter Maddox, stated that he didn’t “know how anyone survived.” Meteorologist Greg Carbin stated, “The warning gave residents enough time to hunker down, but not enough time to safely leave the area.” Some people didn’t even have a storm shelter to escape to. Kenny Long said, “You have warnings…but where do you go?”
Around 300 people were killed in the six states that the tornado hit, making this the US’s deadliest tornado in nearly four decades. Carbin said that these twisters “were the most intense super-cell thunderstorms that [he thinks] anybody…forecasting has ever seen,” but they were too wide to avoid, even when they were predicted just under half an hour from when they struck. Twenty-two year old Justin says that when the tornado was approaching, “It sounded like destruction…it was a mean, mean roar.”
People in some surrounding towns that were lucky enough not to be damaged by the tornado itself are still scarred by the wind, thunder and lightning that built to a haunting crescendo and then came to an abrupt stop. A number of students at the University of Alabama were injured or killed by this terrifying natural disaster, and the storm destroyed Tuscaloosa’s emergency management center as well. In five minutes the tornado ripped a deadly 4-mile gash through the heart of Tuscaloosa.
Meteorologist Harold Brooks stated that it was likely that these twisters and tornadoes were up to a mile wide, and made a path for tens of miles with winds going over the speed of 200 mph. The Tuscaloosa Tornado is being considered an EF5, which is “the strongest category of tornado.” A million houses and business buildings lost power because of this disaster, and because of the devastation the tornado caused, 2,000 National Guard troops were called in for assistance. In response to a question posed about how he would help the victims of this natural disaster, President Obama said, “We can’t control when or where a terrible storm may strike, but we can control how we respond to it. Every American who has been affected by this disaster [should] know that the federal government will do everything we can to help [them] recover and we will stand beside [them] as [they] rebuild.”