It is a miracle: A two-year-old girl has been found alive, alone in a field ten miles from her home in New Pekin, Indiana. Her parents, 3-year-old brother and a 2-month-old sister all died in the violent tornados that have left at least 35 dead in Kentucky, Indiana, Ohio and Alabama. The 2-year-old girl is now in critical condition at Kosair Children’s Hospital in Louisville, Kentucky.
A number of small towns in the Midwest and South have been simply devastated after the storms. Indiana police describe “whole communities and whole communities” as “completely gone” and nothing remaining in areas but “open space.”
Tornados have also been reported in Missouri, Mississippi, Tennessee, Illinois, Georgia, North Carolina and Virginia. The storm system stretched all the way from Gulf Coast to the Great Lakes, so that an estimated 34 million people were at risk to experiencing severe weather according to Mike Hudson of the National Weather Service’s regional office in Kansas City, Missouri. He attributed the cause of the storm to a “clash of the air masses” between Canada’s cool systems and the Gulf of Mexiso’s warm, humid air.
An earlier round of storms had struck on Wednesday and left 14 dead. Friday, when a total of 97 tornados were spotted, will be “perhaps one of the top five for bad weather” in 2012, says Harold Brooks, a research meteorologist at the National Severe Storms Laboratory in Norman, Okla., which is part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. There were also 208 reports of strong winds and 410 reports of hail. In Lebanon, Tennessee, hail up to 3 inches in diameter fell, and broke windows.
You can donate to the Red Cross to help those affected by the tornado; you can call 1-800-RED-CROSS (1-800-733-2767) and also make a $10 donation by texting the word REDCROSS to 90999.
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Photo taken on March 3, 2012, in Kentucky, by The National Guard