Obama on tornado devastation in the South: 'It's heartbreaking'
President Obama expressed dismay after touring some areas of the South that were devastated by severe storms and tornadoes.
The Associated Press is reporting that the death toll from the storms has climbed to 318, making it the deadliest day for twisters since the Great Depression. More than 200 of those dead are in Alabama. More than 30 lost their lives in Tuscaloosa, home of the University of Alabama.
Obama and his family arrived in Tuscaloosa Friday morning on a flight. He and the first lady witnessed flattened neighborhoods and rows of torn-up homes.
"I've never seen devastation like this," Obama said. "It's heartbreaking."
Officials estimate that more than 1 million people remain without electricity. According to the Tennessee Valley Authority, 612,000 homes and businesses were without electricity. More than 120 power poles or steel support structures were damaged, resulting in about 70 large transmission lines being out of service, including a large portion of the 500-kilovolt and 161-kilovolt lines serving northern Alabama and Mississippi.
"What's amazing is when something like this happens folks forget all their petty differences," Obama said. "When we're confronted by the awesome power of nature and reminded that all we have is each other."
-- Tony Pierce
Photo: President Obama speaks Friday during a stop in the Tuscaloosa, Ala., area, which was ravaged by tornadoes. Credit: Larry Downing / Reuters