Tampa Bay Times from St. Petersburg, Florida on February 7, 2008 · 3
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Tampa Bay Times from St. Petersburg, Florida · 3

St. Petersburg, Florida
Issue Date:
Thursday, February 7, 2008
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"World in a snap I Tornadoes tear across South B St. Petersburg Times Thursday, February 7, 2008 3A photos.tampabay.com for more photographs I'-VTO rr- r 1 .j y "w Tv v 1 LINDA STELTER Birmingham News MOULTON, ALA.: Dwight Johnson hid behind a sofa in his living room as a tornado ripped through his house Wednesday. V-1 Associated Press OXFORD, MISSj Colleen Conner digs through the remains of Bonnie Scott's house Wednesday. Scott, who was inside the house when the storm hit, escaped serious injury. 'if - ' ; -WUS SCOTTSVILLE, KYBUlWhitlockofthe National Weather Service Storm Team surveys the damage Wednesday in eastern Allen County, where at least four people died. DAVID W.SMITH I Daily News MIKE AVERY The Courier ft ATKINS, ARK.: A funnel cloud from one of the tornadoes that touched down is seen about 5 p.m. Tuesday from outside Atkins High School. TORNADOES continued from 1A Despite warnings, storms kill dozens ground," said Tennessee Gov. Phil Bredesen, who surveyed the damage from a helicopter. President Bush gave assurances that his administration stood ready to help. Teams from the Federal Emergency Management Agency were sent to the region and activated an emergency center in Georgia "Loss of life, loss of property prayers can help and so can the government," Bush said. "I do want the people in those states to know the American people are standing with them." Union University students took cover in dormitory bathrooms as the storms closed in on Jackson, Tenn. More than 20 of the Southern Baptist school's 3,000 students were trapped behind wreckage after the dormitories came down around them Danny Song was pinned for an hour and a half until rescuers dug him from the rubble. "We looked up and saw the funnel coming in. We started running and then glass just exploded," he said. "I hit the floor and a couch was shoved up against me, which may have saved my life because the roof fell on top of it." Claire Elmblad, a 2007 Wesley Chapel High School graduate, crammed into a bathtub in her dorm with five other women during the storm. She lost some things, but given what could have happened, she feels blessed. About 50 Union students were taken to a hospital, nine with serious injuries, said Tim Ellsworth, the school's news director. Although 80 percent of the residential section of the campus was demolished or severely damaged, there were no fatalities, for which officials credited the college's disaster plan. "A lot of my friends don't have anything left," Elmblad said. "It feels like we're watching a National Geographic channel, only we're living it" Classes have been canceled for the next two weeks. Others affected found reason to be thankful In Castalian Springs, Tenn., where at least, six people died, an 11-month-old boy was discovered unscathed in a field about 100 yards from his home. Kyson, to the surprise of rescuers, had survived being tossed by winds that had not only flattened the brick post office next door but also had killed his mother, Carrie Stowell, 23, throwing her several yards in the opposite direction, into some fallen trees. "He had debris all over him, but there were no obvious signs of trauma," said Ken Weidner, Sumner County emergency management director. "It's a miracle, they ain't both gone," said Doug Stowell, 45, Kyson's grandfather. Across the Southeast, residents said they owed their lives to early warning systems. Forecasters had warned for days that severe weather was possible. The National Weather Service issued more than 1,000 tornado warnings from 3 p.m. Tuesday to 6 am. Wednesday in the 11-state area where the weather was heading. The conditions for bad weather had. lined up so perfectly that the Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Okla, put out an alert six days in advance. "All the clues were there. It was just unfortunate that it came out the way it did," prediction center director Joseph Schaefer said. Tornado experts said there was no evidence that the deadly outbreak was related to global warming or anything other than the clash of contrasting cold and warm air masses that usually precedes such events. There were 67 eyewitness accounts of tornadoes, but some of those were probably twisters that were counted more than once, said Greg Carbin, the warning coordination meteorologist at the Oklahoma center. The actual number is probably more like 30 or 40, he said. Thirty-one people were killed in Tennessee, 13 in Arkansas, seven in Kentucky and four in Alabama, emergency officials said. It was one of the 15 worst tornado death tolls since 1950, and the ration's deadliest barrage of tornadoes since 76 people were killed in Pennsylvania and Ohio on May 31, 1985. After sowing destruction in the South, the storm system moved north, where it buried parts of Wisconsin, Iowa and Kansas under more than a foot of snow. The storm closed schools and businesses, grounded more than 1,000 airline flights and snarled highways. Times staff writer Lisa Bute contributed to this report, which included informationfrom the New York Times and Washington Post. State-by-state look at deaths, damage and injuries Alabama: At least four people were killed in northern Alabama by storms that also injured dozens and damaged as many as 500 homes. Arkansas: At least 13 people were killed, including 12 along one storm's 120-mile path. At Ieast133 people were injured statewide, and hundreds of cattle and other livestock were killed. Indiana: A tornado cut a 4-mile path southwest of Bloomington, blowing the roofs off several houses and toppling trees and power lines. West of Indianapolis, the storm tore the roof off a tire station and destroyed its radio tower. Kentucky: At least seven people were killed and at Ieast16 were injured, a hospital spokeswoman said. Mississippi: A twister shredded warehouses in an industrial park in the city of Southaven, just south of Memphis, as storms damaged or destroyed dozens of homes and other businesses. Eighteen people were hurt, none critically. Tennessee: At least 31 people were killed and more than 90 others were injured, according to the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency. Afire erupted at a natural gas pumping station northeast of Nashville that was struck by the storms. Twenty-six students had to be rescued from wrecked dormitories at Union University in Jackson, and 51 students were taken to a hospital. 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