Storm Toll Nears 300; State of Emergency Declared in Alabama

The death toll from a wave of storms in the southern United States is approaching 300, in what has become the deadliest natural disaster to hit the country since Hurricane Katrina. Thousands of people were wounded, and many more have been left homeless. At least 204 people have died in Alabama. Tuscaloosa Mayor Walt Maddox said entire neighborhoods were destroyed.

Walt Maddox: "I would estimate on a three- to four-mile stretch of the city, at some parts more than a half-mile wide, we have utter destruction. We have neighborhoods that have basically been removed from the map. We have businesses that will no longer be able to engage in commerce. And we’ve got thousands upon thousands of citizens who have lost all of their possessions. Of course, the most tragic thing about what has transpired since yesterday afternoon is we now have 36 confirmed deaths within the city, well over 600 injuries that are directly related to yesterday’s tornado."

President Obama has declared a state of emergency for Alabama and plans to visit the state later today. At the White House, Obama called the damage left by the storms "catastrophic."

President Obama: "In many places, the damage to homes and businesses is nothing short of catastrophic. We can’t control when or where a terrible storm may strike, but we can control how we respond to it. And I want every American who has been affected by this disaster to know that the federal government will do everything we can to help you recover, and we will stand with you as you rebuild."

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