In the nation’s worst natural disaster since Hurricane Katrina, thirteen states in the southeastern United States were struck by more than 130 tornadoes on April 27. The number of tornadoes spawned by the spring storm system was among the largest ever seen in United States history. Mississippi, Tennessee, and Alabama took the brunt of the destruction, with the areas around Tuscaloosa and Birmingham, Alabama, being the worst hit. The 24-hour death toll reached at least 340, and estimates of damage are in the billions of dollars.
One of the tornadoes that hit the Tuscaloosa area cut a swath a mile wide, one of the biggest tornadoes ever seen in the United States. A few small towns, including Smithville, Mississippi, were almost entirely destroyed. Homes, grocery stores, and gas stations were reduced to rubble. Residents across four states were stranded without electricity, water, or gas.
Emergency crews immediately began working to find survivors, treat the injured, and provide supplies to those people in need. President Obama declared huge sections of several states disaster areas. Federal officials visited affected towns to survey the damage and assess what can be done to help to rebuild the thousands of homes and businesses destroyed by the storms.
Image credit: AP Photo/Dave Martin
- Tornadoes Leave a Trail of Destruction
This article provides an overview of the destruction caused by the storms; includes interactive maps of where twisters were reported and slideshow of damaged areas. (Source: Wall Street Journal, April 29, 2011)
- Videos: Tornadoes Tear through South
This collection of eye-witness videos shows the tornadoes as they rip through cities in the South. Source: Washington Post, April 28, 2011)
- Top Federal Officials Tour, Promise to Help Tornado-Ravaged South
This article describes the efforts of federal officials to survey and assess the damage of the storms. (Source: CNN, May 1, 2011)
- Stats from Second-Deadliest Tornado Day in US
This article offers meteorological and other statistics about the tornadoes. (Source: accuweather.com, May 3, 2011)