TUSCALOOSA, AL – A terrible storm system that killed at least 200 and devastated six states of the South is one of the worst the country has experienced in more than four decades.
In the 24 hours ending at 8 a.m. CT Thursday, 163 tornadoes have been reported by eyewitnesses. One of them, a mile wide tornado split in two Alabama, killing more than 130 people in that state alone, just missing a campus housing to thousands of students, but grading on a large sample of the city with destruction.
Officials are on the floor Thursday to assess damage and provide emergency services and supplies to storm victims.
“Until we know the extent of the damage for days,” said President Barack Obama in a statement Wednesday, “we will continue to monitor severe storms across the country and are willing to continue helping the people of Alabama and all citizens affected by these storms. “
National Weather Service Storm Prediction Center said 2011 is already a record year for storm activity.
Keli Tarp, public information officer with the center, said that 610 tornadoes have been reported this month alone. That number will likely change as witness accounts confirmed.
“This year is likely to have a record number of tornadoes in the month of April,” said Lona.
A record number of tornadoes brought a near record number of deaths.
Dave Imy, a meteorologist at the NOAA, said the number of deaths in the system of Wednesday’s storm was the most in any outbreak of tornadoes since 1974, when 315 people died.
The weather system had killed at least 232 people in six southern states, based on figures obtained in the morning by Raycom News Network.
Mississippi reported 32 dead, 30 Tennessee and Virginia eight. Both Arkansas and Georgia reported 11 dead.
Alabama was the most affected by the measure. As of Thursday morning, 131 people were killed by the Office of Emergency Management Alabama.
The state of emergency was declared by the president shortly after the storms leveled.
In his Wednesday statement, Obama said the governor of Alabama, said Robert Bentley, R-AL, which had ordered the federal government to act quickly in emergency response.
“I approved her application for federal emergency assistance, including search and rescue assets,” said Obama.
Especially hard hit was the city of Tuscaloosa, home of the University of Alabama.
In the university town, a tornado killed a 32-mile wide and hundreds of injured people, launching boats from a shop in an apartment complex, tearing holes in the ceilings and the destruction of a strip of restaurants to along a busy street.
Hundreds of buildings and houses were razed by the tornado. On Wednesday night, the search and rescue personnel who may be looking for victims buried under rubble.
Michael Neese, 21, university student, was in his apartment on 15th Street when the tornado passed.
“It was like a white cloud just turning into the parking lot next to me,” he said. “They broke up Tuscaloosa. All of the Calle 15 is gone. “
The tornado left a Tuscaloosa hospital swirling mass of activity, one of which also damaged by the tornado.
“We estimate about 600 were treated at DCH Regional Medical Center,” said Brad Fisher, spokesman for the DCH.
Windows in several patient rooms and waiting room were blown out there.
More than 100 patients per hour, flooded its doors immediately after the storm, said Fisher. The hospital admitted 92 people and reported five dead on the morning of Thursday.
“Our numbers will increase today,” said Fisher. “Businesses in the ED is constant, so we’re not done.”