Tornado Survivors Recall Horror

54 dead as FEMA steps in to begin cleanup
By Wesley Oliver,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 6, 2008 8:00 PM CST
Jeff Smith carries objects from his grandmother's home in Clinton, Ark., Wednesday, Feb. 6, 2008. A tornado struck the town late Tuesday. At least 54 people were killed and hundreds injured Tuesday and...   (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – As FEMA teams mobilized rescue efforts in the Southern states ravaged by yesterday's tornadoes, survivors combed through the wreckage today, sharing survival stories and clutching their faith. “It looks like the Lord took a Brillo pad and scrubbed the ground,” said Tennessee’s governor. The twisters, possibly spawned by a cooling of the tropical Pacific Ocean, claimed 54 lives—the deadliest storm system in 23 years, AP reports.

“We had a beautiful neighborhood. Now it’s hell,” said a resident of Hartsville, Tenn., whose community was scorched by a twister-inspired fire. But miracles stories abound: A baby was found unharmed in a field, college students survived even though their dorm crashed around them, and one man explained how his family survived after the wind yanked open their door and nearly sucked them out: “We prayed.”