Dubuque native tells of Alabama tornado damage - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Dubuque native tells of Alabama tornado damage


More than 100 tornadoes have twisted a path of destruction across the South.  Several cities in Alabama were especially hard hit Wednesday, as steady storms pounded the region, leaving at least 280 people dead and many more injured. 

That's compared to 276 total deaths from tornadoes in the US from 2007 to 2010.  So this one night of storms has killed more Americans than all the storms in the past four years combined.

Kim Smith spent 20 years living in Dubuque and considers the eastern Iowa community to be her hometown.  But in 1992, Smith's husband took a job in Birmingham, Alabama.  And even after two decades in the Midwest, Smith says she has never seen a storm do so much damage.

A massive twister was caught on camera as it cut its path of destruction through communities across the state of Alabama.  That tornado was just part of the deadliest storm outbreak to hit the American South in 40 years.  Homes and businesses are now flattened.  Debris litters the landscape for miles.

"Our neighbors three doors down had the power pole fall across his car.  Lines are down.  Our telephone services is down.  Internet service is down.  So it's been very difficult for a lot of people," Smith said.

Smith is a teacher, and her school canceled classes Wednesday, knowing that the massive storms were coming.  But it's still almost unbelievable to see the destruction that's been left behind. 

"It's really been devastating.  I've never, ever been around storms where they were so intense all day long," said Smith.

Volunteers from across the country are already starting to make their way down south to offer support in what will be a long path to recovery.  Smith is just thankful she and her family survived and has only one simple request for her friends and loved ones back in Iowa.

"The most important thing people can do right now is pray," Smith said.

Luckily, Smith's home was not damaged in the path of the storms since it sits high on a hill.  But certainly, she and her family will be reaching out to friends and neighbors across the community, as they all work to put their lives back together.

The damage is so widespread that the governor of Alabama has declared a state of emergency and has asked for federal assistance.

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