View Mobile Site
 
Posted: April 30, 2011 7:15 a.m.

Cleanup continues across South

ATLANTA, Ga. - President Barack Obama issued a federal disaster declaration for parts of Georgia that were ravaged by this week's violent storms, making federal funding available to help people recover in seven counties.

Obama's action extends federal aid to the counties of Bartow, Catoosa, Dade, Floyd, Polk, Spalding and Walker.

The White House said in statement that people in those areas may qualify for grants for temporary housing and home repairs, low-cost loans to cover uninsured property losses and other assistance. Funds are also available on a cost-sharing basis for debris removal and emergency protective measures in 16 counties.

Across the South, volunteers have been pitching in as the death toll from Wednesday's storms keeps rising. At least 339 people were killed across seven states, including at least 248 in Alabama, as the storm system spawned tornadoes through several states. There were 34 deaths in Mississippi, 34 in Tennessee, 15 in Georgia, five in Virginia, two in Louisiana and one in Kentucky.

It was the largest death toll since March 18, 1925, when 747 people were killed in storms that raged through Missouri, Illinois and Indiana. That was long before the days when Doppler radar could warn communities of severe weather. Forecasters have said residents were told these tornadoes were coming. But they were just too wide and powerful and in populated areas to avoid the horrifying body count.

Storms can still defeat technology. This week's tornadoes devastated the infrastructure of emergency safety workers. Emergency buildings were wiped out, bodies were being stored in refrigerated trucks, and authorities were left to beg for such basics as flashlights. In one neighborhood, the storms even left firefighters to work without a truck.

Volunteers stepped in to help almost as soon as the storms passed through. They ditched their jobs, shelled out their paychecks, donated blood and even sneaked past police blockades to get aid to some of the hardest-hit communities struck by the deadliest tornado disaster since 1925.

"We're part of the community, and we're called to reach out and help people," said Ken Osvath of the Church of the Highlands, one of an untold number of volunteers who handed out supplies to victims in Alabama.

Thousands of people were injured - 990 in Tuscaloosa alone - and thousands of properties were destroyed. As many as 1 million Alabama homes and businesses remained without power.

 

 

Commenting is not available.

Commenting not available.

Please wait ...