Officials: 38 Dead in Tornadoes That Swept Across US | NECN

Officials: 38 Dead in Tornadoes That Swept Across US



    Communities such as Henryville, Ind. are coping with the devastation left by the tornado that ripped through (Published Thursday, Jan. 16, 2014)

    (NECN/NBC News: Jennie Runevitch) - The day after storms tore through homes and towns across the U.S., officials confirm that 38 people across five states are dead.

    Nineteen of the confirmed deaths are in Kentucky, while 14 people are dead in Indiana, three in Ohio and one each in Alabama and Georgia.

    In Henryville, Ind., rescue crews are searching for victims, survivors are searching for family members and people who lost everything are starting to realize just how devastating Friday's tornado was to their small town.

    "What we know is we've got complete destruction," said Sgt. Jerry Goodwin of the Indiana State Police.

    The storm simply decimated the area. There are injuries, there are deaths, there is serious damage here, with trucks and trees in a tangled web of debris off I-65. In one place, a gas station was completely ripped apart.

    The Henryville Junior-Senior High School was virtually flattened. The students were let out 20 minutes before the twister hit. A couple dozen students and staff who remained were able to be rescued safely.

    The storm-battered school is in Ernie Hall's backyard, and says it was leveled in less than a minute.

    "I see it coming over, I said, 'That is a tornado.' I could tell the way the clouds ... I said, 'it's heading right this way.' Got back there in the hallway with a mattress up and prayed," said Hall.

    Three of them huddled in that hallway as a tornado ripped through.

    "I could actually feel the wind sucking at me," said Hall. "The roar. A loud roar and I mean stuff up in the attic was just beatin' and poundin' all over the place."

    They made it through the storm, but around town, there are serious concerns for the missing.

    As the day turned to night, searches intensified with emergency workers from across the state.

    "We have formed search teams and we are searching all those areas looking for people that may be trapped inside their homes," said Sgt. Goodwin.

    In the midst of all that chaos, there are stories of hope.

    "We got milk, we got juice, chips, toothbrush, toothpaste," said one unidentified volunteer bringing supplies.

    People shuttled supplies to survivors and reunions of friends and family who made it through took place - all signs of a community doing whatever they can to recover from this.

    "Mothe Nature unleashed her fury on us," said Sgt. Goodwin. "But we're going to get through this. We've got good people here in southern Indiana, and we're going to get through it."