December 21, 2014
More than 34 killed as tornado-producing storms lash US Southeast
At least 34 people across six states were killed in tornadoes unleashed by a ferocious storm system that razed neighborhoods and threatened more destruction in heavily populated parts of the US South.
In Arkansas and Mississippi, the hardest hit states, there have been 27 confirmed storm-related deaths and more than 200 people injured over the last three days as tornadoes reduced homes to splinters, snapped trees like twigs and sent trucks flying through the air like toys.
Deaths were also reported in Oklahoma and Iowa on Sunday, and Alabama and Tennessee on Monday.
Makeshift shelters have been set up for thousands of families forced out of their homes while the National Guard, local police and residents who had lost all their possessions sifted through the rubble looking for more victims.
"People were running around screaming, trying to find their kids. There was nothing left," Melba Reed said as she described the aftermath of a tornado in Louisville, Mississippi, a town of about 7,000 in the central part of the state.
In Tupelo's Park Hill, a traditionally black and densely populated neighborhood, the sound of chainsaws reverberated in the air as children joined adults to help remove debris and residents took to the streets handing out grilled hotdogs to anyone in need of food.
"I am overwhelmed - of course the damage is overwhelming, but the outpouring of people to help lend a land is overwhelming, too," said Denise Hardin, who works at the Tupelo Housing Authority.