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South Begins to Dig Out of Tornadoes’ Devastation

FEMA, National Guard, church groups organize for victims
By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 29, 2011 7:52 AM CDT
South Begins to Dig Out of Tornadoes’ Devastation
This aerial photo shows the devastation of the Cedar Crest and Forest Lake neighborhoods in Tuscaloosa, Ala. on Thursday, April 28, 2011.   (AP Photo/The Tuscaloosa News, Dusty Compton)

(Newser) – In the wake of the deadliest American storms in nearly four decades, hard-hit states in the South are beginning to sift through the ruins as federal and state authorities prepare a giant cleanup effort. Some devastated areas are hardly recognizable, with homes and churches decimated, cars sent flying, and trees uprooted, the Wall Street Journal reports. "The first neighborhood I went to, I had to ask whether it was a neighborhood," said a doctor in the rescue effort.

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President Obama is set today to visit Tuscaloosa, Ala., one of the worst-hit cities; he'll meet with Alabama officials and victims' families. The city's search and rescue effort will continue another 24 to 48 hours, its mayor says, before shifting to recovery work, reports the New York Times. An Atlanta area warehouse will soon begin distributing water, food, tents, and other survival equipment, FEMA said; meanwhile, thousands of National Guard troops have been dispatched for cleanup, while church groups are preparing meals for victims. The Washington Post has more on the tornadoes' aftermath. (Read more Southern tornadoes stories.)

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