UPDATE: Here is video of the horrifying twister that struck Tuscaloosa. (You can hear the videographer breathing heavily, panicked no doubt, throughout the footage.)
Parts of my home state of Alabama have been devastated — simply devastated — by a volley of violent tornadoes that swept across the northern areas of the state, killing more than a hundred people. Violent tornadoes also ripped across other parts of the Deep South. From the NYT:
ATLANTA — The death toll in five Southern states rose sharply Thursday morning to 173 after devastating storms ripped through the region, spawning a deadly tornado in downtown Tuscaloosa, Ala., and leaving a trail of flattened homes and buildings in an area already battered by storms.
Across Alabama, at least 128 people were killed by storms on Wednesday alone, according to news reports. The Associated Press reported an additional 32 deaths in Mississippi, 11 in Georgia and 1 each in Tennessee and Virginia. . .
The tornado was only the latest in a series that have struck the southern United States this week, causing heavy rains and flooding in an area stretching from Texas to Georgia, officials said Wednesday.
By Wednesday, the storms, which started Monday evening, had also left more than 50,000 people without power from East Texas to Memphis and destroyed scores of homes as the system moved east into Mississippi, Alabama and Georgia. The storms were expected to weaken before moving into the Carolinas and up the Eastern Seaboard on Thursday and Friday, according to the National Weather Service.
This season has brought an unusually high number of violent tornadoes — a stark reminder of the vicissitudes of Mother Nature. These tragic episodes also serve to remind us of our obligations as a community and a country, no matter our disagreements. In a time of vicious partisan politics, these weather patterns highlight our mutual frailties and inter-dependence.
My prayers are with the victims, their friends and families and the communities trying to recover.