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April 28, 2011
Tornadoes devastate South, killing more than 200

PLEASANT GROVE, Ala. (AP) -- Dozens of tornadoes ripped through the South, flattening homes and businesses and killing at least 214 people in six states in the deadliest outbreak in nearly 40 years. As day broke Thursday, people in hard-hit Alabama surveyed flattened, debris-strewn neighborhoods and told of pulling bodies from rubble after the storms passed Wednesday afternoon and evening.
"It happened so fast it was unbelievable," said Jerry Stewart, a 63-year-old retired firefighter who was picking through the remains of his son's wrecked home in Pleasant Grove, a suburb of Birmingham. "They said the storm was in Tuscaloosa and it would be here in 15 minutes. And before I knew it, it was here."
He and his wife, along with their daughter and two grandchildren, survived by hiding under their front porch. Friends down the street who did the same weren't so lucky -- Stewart said he pulled out the bodies of two neighbors whose home was ripped off its foundation. (34 images)

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Kevin Harrison and his wife Sara Beth hold their children, Mason and Sophie as they emerge from a safe room, the only thing that survived of their house, in the McCulley Mill Road area near Athens, Ala., following a large tornado that cut a path through Lawrence, Morgan and Limestone Counties Wednesday, April 27, 2011. Gary Cosby Jr / The Decatur Daily


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A tornado moves through Tuscaloosa, Ala. Wednesday, April 27, 2011. A wave of severe storms laced with tornadoes strafed the South on Wednesday, killing at least 16 people around the region and splintering buildings across swaths of an Alabama university town. Dusty Compton / Tuscaloosa News



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Michael Dunn is hugged by his mother Patricia Dunn as they stand in the road that lead to his house which was completely destroyed after a tornado touched down, Wednesday, April 27, 2011 in Concord, Ala. Jeff Roberts / The Birmingham News



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Faye Hyde, right, sits on a mattress in what was her yard as she comforts her granddaughter, Sierra Goldsmith, 2, in Conord Ala. Wednesday, April 27, 2011. Their home was completely destroyed. Jeff Roberts / The Birmingham News



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An injured person is removed from the Masters Drive area of Concord, Ala., after what appeared to be a tornado ripped through parts of the town late Wednesday, April 27, 2011. Jeff Roberts / The Birmingham News



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Extensive damage is seen after what appeared to be a tornado ripped through parts of Concord, Ala., Wednesday, April 27, 2011. Jeff Roberts / The Birmingham News



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Rescue workers search a hillside after what appeared to be a tornado ripped through parts of Concord, Ala., Wednesday, April 27, 2011. Jeff Roberts / The Birmingham News



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People walk down Magnolia Lane after a tornado touched down in Concord, Ala., outside of Hueytown late Wednesday, April 27, 2011. Jeff Roberts / The Birmingham News



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A large tornado sweeps through Limestone County, south of Athens, Ala., near Stewart Road, Wednesday afternoon, April 27, 2011. Gary Cosby Jr / The Decatur Daily



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Deputy Johnny Morell and Kirk Bowley escort John Wessinger from the remains of his home in the McCulley Mill Road area near Athens, Ala., following a large tornado that cut a path through Lawrence, Morgan and Limestone Counties Wednesday, April 27, 2011. Wessinger suffered an arm injury as well as cuts and scrapes. Gary Cosby Jr / The Decatur Daily



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Amy Ledford stands by the remains of her house, Wednesday, April 27, 2011 near Athens, Ala. Gary Cosby Jr / The Decatur Daily



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A car lies overturned amid destroyed buildings in Tuscaloosa, Ala., Wednesday, April 27, 2011. Dusty Compton / Tuscaloosa News



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A man pauses to look at damage from a deadly tornado, on Thursday, April 28, 2011, in Tuscaloosa, Ala. Jay Reeves / AP



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A displaced family is assisted by emergency responders Wednesday, April 27, 2011, near in Tuscaloosa, Ala. Dusty Compton / Tuscaloosa News



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Homes and businesses along McFarland Blvd. were completely destroyed by a tornado that ripped through the Tuscaloosa, Ala. area on Wednesday, April 27, 2011. Dusty Compton / Tuscaloosa News



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People sift through the debris around the Cedar Crest neighborhood near 15th Steet in Tuscaloosa, Ala., Wednesday, April 27, 2011. Dusty Compton / Tuscaloosa News



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Homes and businesses lie in ruins along 15th St. in Tuscaloosa, Ala. Wednesday, April 27, 2011. Dusty Compton / Tuscaloosa News



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Cars are flipped and buildings are destroyed along 15th St. and the surrounding neighborhoods in Tuscaloosa, Ala. Wednesday, April 27, 2011. Dusty Compton / Tuscaloosa News



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Residents survey the destruction after a tornado hit Pratt City, Ala. just north of downtown Birmingham, Ala. on Wednesday, April 27, 2011. Butch Dill / AP



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Residents survey the destruction after a tornado hit Pratt City, Ala. just north of downtown Birmingham, Ala., on Wednesday, April 27, 2011. Butch Dill / AP



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An injured man is carried away after a tornado touched down, Wednesday, April 27, 2011 in Birmingham, Ala., Bernard Troncale / The Birmingham News



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Birmingham Rescue crew members attend to a man who was injured after a tornado hit Pratt City, just north of downtown Birmingham, Ala. on Wednesday, April 27, 2011. Butch Dill / AP



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A scene of devastation on Thursday, April 28, 2011 after a tornado hit Pleasant Grove, Ala., just west of downtown Birmingham Wednesday afternoon. Butch Dill / AP



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The scene on Thursday, the day after a tornado flattened Pleasant Grove, Ala., a subdivision of Mountain Grove, on Wednesday, April 27, 2011. Greg Bluestein / AP



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Residents search through what is left of their homes Thursday, April 28, 2011 after a tornado hit Pleasant Grove just west of downtown Birmingham, Ala., Wednesday afternoon. Butch Dill / AP



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Residents search through what is left of their homes Thursday, April 28, 2011 after a tornado hit Pleasant Grove just west of downtown Birmingham, Ala., Wednesday afternoon. Butch Dill / AP



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Tiffany Wood walks through her backyard looking for belongings Thursday, April 28, 2011 after a tornado hit Pleasant Grove just west of downtown Birmingham, Ala., Wednesday afternoon. Butch Dill / AP



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Residents search through what is left of their homes after Wednesday's tornado hit Pleasant Grove just west of downtown Birmingham, Ala., on Thursday, April 28, 2011. Butch Dill / AP



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A resident searches through what is left of his home after a tornado hit a day earlier in Pleasant Grove, just west of downtown Birmingham, Ala., on Thursday, April 28, 2011. Butch Dill / AP



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Residents search through what is left of their homes Thursday, April 28, 2011 after a tornado hit Pleasant Grove just west of downtown Birmingham, Ala., Wednesday afternoon. Butch Dill / AP



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An emergency responder combs through the wreckage of a destroyed home after a tornado touched down, Wednesday, April 27, 2011 in Smithville, Miss. C. Todd Sherman / The Northeast Mississippi Daily



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A group of unidentified emergency volunteers move a body recovered among the devastation in Smithville, Mississippi after a tornado destroyed much of the small town on Wednesday, April 27, 2011. C. Todd Sherman / The Northeast Mississippi Daily



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Residents gather following a tornado, Wednesday, April 27, 2011 in Smithville, Miss. Thomas Wells / The Northeast Mississippi Daily



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A utility pole hangs from wires in front of a church in downtown Cullman, Ala. after a tornado touched down on Wednesday afternoon, April 27, 2011. Brennen Smith / Decatur Daily



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