The destruction of life and property at the hands of vicious storms and tornados that ravaged through the South and Midwest Friday has been astounding. The Associated Press reports that at least 38 people have died across five states, and emergency officials are continuing to search through leveled towns in the hope of finding survivors.
"Friday's violent storms touched down in at least a dozen states from Georgia to Illinois, killing 19 people in Kentucky, 14 in Indiana, three in Ohio, and one each in Alabama and Georgia. They scarred the landscape over hundreds of miles, leaving behind a trail of shredded sheet metal, insulation, gutted churches, crunched-up cars and even a fire hydrant."
The small southern Indiana town of Henryville was hit hard by merciless storms Friday, having several residents represented among the 14 Indianans confirmed to have been killed during the storm. Joe Sullivan, a National Weather Service meteorologist, explained to CNN that the tornado that swept through the area of Henryville was an EF-4 -- meaning it had sustained winds of between 166 and 200 mph, putting it in the top 2% of all tornadoes in terms of strength. Sullivan told CNN that the tornado went for 52 miles and was roughly 150 yards wide.
Lawrence Smith, a reporter with WDRB, caught the tornado heading towards him on video, running to a convenience store for cover as the storm headed his way:
Additional video of the Twister hurdling towards Henryville:
Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels spoke with CNN Saturday as he was observing the damage to Henryville, a town populated by just under 2,000 people.
We're not unfamiliar with Mother Nature's wrath out here in Indiana," Gov. Daniels said. "But this about as serious as we've seen it in the years I've been in this job."
President Barack Obama has offered federal assistance to the states hit hard by the storm, and Ohio Gov. John Kasich declared an emergency Saturday.