Storms ravage the South, killing at least 150

Residents survey the destruction after a tornado hit Pratt City. A wave of severe storms laced with tornadoes strafed the South.

UPDATED REPORT

JEREMY HOBSON: The death toll from yesterday's severe storms across the southeast has risen to 173. Almost 130 of those deaths in the state of Alabama alone. The National Weather Service says dozens of tornadoes were reported across the state as severe storms ripped through Tuscaloosa, Huntsville and Birmingham.

My Marketplace Morning Report co-host Steve Chiotakis was in Birmingham during the storms and he joins us now by phone. Good morning Steve.

STEVE CHIOTAKIS: Good morning Jeremy.

HOBSON: Well, first of all just tell us what it was like with all these tornado warnings?

CHIOTAKIS: It was chaotic. You know, the power was going on and off, the power's out for hundreds of thousands of people in the area right now. I was just trying to get my family to a safer place. You know, a lot of the TV weather people were pointing to footage of tornadoes live on camera. A lot of action going on at one time and all I could think about were those trees outside the windows that were swaying and trying to get away from all those windows.

HOBSON: Sure. And you know, Steve we often think about tornadoes, we think about htem in the middle of farms or out away from the cities. But these tornadoes yesterday were in major populated areas with businesses and lots of people.

CHIOTAKIS: Yeah, let's talk about Tuscaloosa Jeremy. You've got entire boulevards of gas stations and fast food joints and retailers that were damaged or destroyed. A mall sustained a lot of damage. Stores that were thankfully mostly closed because of the severe weather threat. That's what's so awful about all of this is that a lot of people knew bad weather was a good possibility and couldn't escape it anyway. And now we've got a big human toll, scores of dead and injured. And President Obama has declared a state of emergency here offering up federal money for clean up and that's a recovery Jeremy that's going to take a long long time.

HOBSON: Marketplace's Steve Chiotakis with us from Birmingham, Ala. Thanks Steve.

CHIOTAKIS: You got it Jeremy.


ORIGINAL REPORT

JEREMY HOBSON: There's more severe weather in the forecast today for parts of the country after yesterday's violent storms in the southeast. At least 85 people were killed, more than 60 in Alabama alone after tornadoes tore through populated areas including Tuscaloosa, Huntsville and Birmingham.

My Marketplace Morning Report co-host Steve Chiotakis was in Birmingham during the storms and he joins us now. Good morning Steve.

STEVE CHIOTAKIS: Good morning Jeremy.

HOBSON: So first tell us what it was like with all of these tornadoes just racing and ripping through the State of Alabama.

CHIOTAKIS: It was hard keep up, to be honest with you. I can tell you I was with me parents and concerned about them as well. So we had tornado sirens going off, we had trying to get in the basement to make sure we were safe. So you were keeping up with one tornado warning after the other. There were as many as a dozen going on at one time. So, yeah. I went outside and hail and all of that, you're just concerned about your safety.

HOBSON: And Steve as officials look across the state now and try to figure out just how much was damaged, are there any estimates?

CHIOTAKIS: We don't have any estimates -- any official estimates. But I can tell you just by the loss of businesses, you know, we've got restaurants that were bulldozed, one famous barbecue place in Tuscaloosa was taken out. A mall, part of the shopping mall, was also destroyed. So you've got all kinds of things like that so, it's got ot be in the tens, maybe even hundreds of millions of dollars.

HOBSON: Marketplace's Steve Chiotakis with us from Birmingham. Steve thanks so much.

 

CHIOTAKIS: You're welcome Jeremy.

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