Clean-up Begins After Devastating Storms in the South

President Obama met with local officials and survivors in Tuscaloosa, Alabama Friday morning and said he had “never seen devastation like this.” The president vowed residents would be given aid to help recover from the damage brought by the storms.

“We’re gonna make sure that you’re not forgotten and that we do everything we can to make sure that we rebuild,” he said.

_Read more coverage of the aftermath of the storms from public media outlets throughout the region:_

Birmingham_tornado _Neighbors asses the damage in Smithfield Estates, Alabama on Thursday morning. Photo Courtesy: Tanya Ott/WBHM-FM in Birmingham, AL_

Alabama was hit the hardest of the six states that suffered damage from severe storms and tornadoes on Thursday night. At least 162 people were killed and thousands of homes were destroyed when tornadoes touched down in Birmingham and Tuscaloosa.

Google Maps has plotted tornado touchdown locations as recorded by NOAA.

WBHM’s Tanya Ott spent Thursday morning visiting affected areas and spoke with several survivors who lost their homes in the storms. One resident compared the wreckage to Iraq saying, “I can only say that there are houses that are exploded. The churches in this area are demolished. It’s extremely bad.” Listen to the report here.

Help is coming from across state lines. Tampa Electric in Florida “is sending more than one hundred team members and contract linemen to Alabama,” according to WUSF.

In Tennessee, the fatality count increased to 34, and as WPLN of Nashville reports, emergency responders say it could have been worse — but the tornadoes touched down mostly in rural areas. Government officials were able to see the storm’s path when they surveyed the damage from the air.

Many from the state’s congressional delegation flew the path carved by tornadoes in East Tennessee along with Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam.

“The benefit from being in the air, you see how broad the swath is and how incredibly devastating the storm was. Obviously then when you come on the ground you realize how personal it is. The house you see in bits and pieces was someone’s home yesterday.”

Kentucky Governor Steve Beshar also flew over the damaged area of his state where, according to WFPL news, “Forty-eight counties and 17 cities have declared states of emergency.”

Also in Kentucky, Director of the University of Louisville’s Center for Hazards Research David Simpson said the death rate from the storm was unacceptable, according to WEKU in Richmond, KY.

David Simpson says with modern technology and media, governments should be able to give people enough warning to reduce death tolls whenever possible.

Melissa Stiers reports on Thursday’s clean-up for Georgia Public Broadcasting:

Georgia Public Broadcasting reported on the importance of staying safe as residents embark on a their clean-up efforts.

OSHA warned of potential illness from exposure to contaminated water or food, electrical hazards from downed power lines and portable generators, and drowning after being caught in moving water or while removing water from flooded structures.

American Public Media’s Marketplace reported on the role social media did and did not play in dispensing important information, especially in Alabama where broadband access is below the national average.

The NOAA-NASA GOES Project captured the storm’s path from space:

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