Tornadoes Rip Through U.S. South, Killing 50

Antonio Gonzalez in Lafayette, Tennessee
Associated Press
February 6, 2008

Residents in five Southern states tried to salvage what they could Wednesday from homes reduced to piles of debris, a day after the deadliest cluster of tornadoes in nearly a decade tore through the region, snapping trees and crumpling homes.

(Photo gallery: Tornadoes Ravage U.S. South [February 6, 2008].)

At least 50 people were dead.

Rescue crews, some with the help of the National Guard, went door-to-door looking for more victims. Dozens of twisters were reported as the storms swept through Kentucky, Tennessee, Mississippi, Arkansas, and Alabama.

Seavia Dixon (pictured), whose Atkins, Arkansas, home was shattered, stood Wednesday morning in her yard, holding muddy baby pictures of her son, who is now a 20-year-old soldier in Iraq. Only a concrete slab was left from the home.

The family's brand new white pickup truck was upside-down, about 150 yards (140 meters) from where it was parked before the storm. Another pickup truck the family owned sat crumpled about 50 feet (15 meters) from the slab.

"You know, it's just material things," Dixon said, her voice breaking. "We can replace them. We were just lucky to survive."

The Victims

In many places, the storms struck as Super Tuesday primary elections were ending. As the extent of the damage quickly became clear, Hillary Rodham Clinton, Barack Obama, and Mike Huckabee paused in their speeches to remember the victims.

Twenty-six people were killed in Tennessee, thirteen killed in Arkansas, seven killed in Kentucky, and four killed in Alabama, emergency officials said.

Among the victims were Arkansas parents who died with their 11-year-old daughter in Atkins when they stayed behind to calm their horses. The community, one of the hardest hit, is a town of about 3,000 approximately 60 miles (100 kilometers) northwest of Little Rock.

Ray Story tried to get his 70-year-old brother, Bill Clark, to a hospital after the storms leveled his mobile home in Macon County, about 60 miles (100 kilometers) northeast of Nashville.

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