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Details of Rolling Wave of Bad Weather

Aired November 11, 2002 - 05:03   ET


HEIDI COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: Let's go ahead and get more now on the details of this rolling wave of bad weather Chad's telling us about. At least five people have been killed in Tennessee. Two fatalities are confirmed in Coffee County, including a 10-year-old boy. This is video now from Coffee County.
Authorities say tornado winds in Carroll and Montgomery Counties reached 140 miles an hour. It's a story similar in southeastern Kentucky, where the storm's uprooted trees and downed power lines. Authorities are checking storm damaged areas for victims.

Northern Alabama reports at least seven deaths. A tornado in Fayette County injured some people and fallen tress blocked a state highway. One emergency official says Carbon Hill Junior High School was blown away by a tornado.

We want to go now to Knoxville, Tennessee, Morgan County, actually, where we have Teresa Woodard standing by of WBIR-TV.

Teresa, how are things there?

TERESA WOODARD, WBIR-TV CORRESPONDENT: They're not good. The scene is very sad. It's a very scary scene. Of course, it's still dark. The sun hasn't come up, and, of course, once the sun does come up, that's what everybody's dreading because we just got some updated numbers from the Associated Press. They're now saying that seven people are confirmed dead in Morgan County, as many as possibly 45 people missing.

This all happened last night. Morgan County was hit around 8:30 or so is when the first wave came through, and it just kept pounding one after the other. It's really, really devastating around here -- mobile homes gone, homes that actually had a strong foundation gone, entire communities basically wiped away. There are cars that were picked up and just toppled throughout the road. And we talked to a man a little while ago who dug through some debris to pull out one of his neighbors who was just screaming desperately for help. Luckily that man survived.

But, again, like we mentioned, about seven people are -- who are thought to be dead. So the scene is very grim here.

COLLINS: I imagine a lot of emergency personnel on the scene, as well?

WOODARD: Oh, absolutely, and they actually were searching into the wee hours of the morning and then they called off the search until six o'clock Eastern Time just because things were so dark and obviously power out, no phone availability or anything like that. So they called off the search for a while.

They've called in help from several different counties around here. Just to give you an idea of where we are, we're about an hour northwest of Knoxville. That's in the eastern part of Tennessee. And they've called in help from many different counties to try to help out here.

COLLINS: All right, Teresa Woodard in Morgan County, Tennessee, we do appreciate it.

One of the areas hardest hit is northwestern Ohio, as well. Five people were killed there.

Reporter Angelica St. John of CNN affiliate WANE is in Van Wert, where two people were killed. She brings us this report.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's the tornado.

ANGELICA ST. JOHN, WANE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This is what Van Wert was facing -- four tornadoes barreled into Van Wert County, this one captured on home video.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I can't, I can't even comprehend it. It's amazing to me. I never expected anything like this to happen here in Van Wert.

ST. JOHN: This is what residents now face -- homes reduced to rubble, power lines in front yards, trees clear cut, and what's left of the trees holds what's left of the homes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Because I heard a lot of like wind and I go down and right at the end of my road there's a humongous tornado right in the field at the end of my road.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I've never seen anything in my life like it. It was huge.

ST. JOHN: You could hear sirens over the rain as families assessed the damage and as rescue workers searched for those missing and injured. Dozens of people were inside the Van Wert cinema when a tornado tore the top off. Luckily these patrons were able to get out safely.

(on camera): A staging area has been set up here at Van Wert High School so people can dome in and check on friends or loved ones who are unaccounted for. But police officers we spoke with say that there have been far fewer injuries than they expected.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, we probably had approximately 40 to 50 people that's been in here, you know, throughout the night.

ST. JOHN (voice-over): The sound of rescue helicopters rumbled through the night sky as they attend to the injured.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I probably won't believe it until tomorrow morning when it sets in. It's that scary.

ST. JOHN: Scarier still for those searching for loved ones still missing.


COLLINS: Again, that was Angelica St. John of CNN affiliate WANE reporting from Ohio.

If you would like to see more pictures from these storms, just go ahead and click onto our Web site. You can see the damage the storms have caused and see if they could be heading your direction. It's all right there on, AOL keyword: CNN.


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