The nation’s southeast braced itself Tuesday for another surge of storms that have already pummeled a three-state area with dozens of tornadoes, killing at least 28 people and leaving thousands without power, much less their homes.
On Monday, a devastating storm front barreled into parts of Alabama, Mississippi and Tennessee, producing 80 tornado and 64 hail reports within a 24-hour period.
A twister that touched down in Kimberly, Ala., located about 20 miles north of Birmingham, completely destroyed the town hall, fire department and dozens of other buildings.
“It’s a mess here,” TODAY’s Al Roker said Tuesday, reporting in front of what used to be the Kimberly Church of God.
Roker said he was in his hotel Monday night when tornado sirens went off.
“They had everybody get out of their rooms and head to ballroom because there was a tornado barreling down on Birmingham,” he said. “Luckily, it dissipated, but I got to tell you, it was some frightening moments. In all my years doing this, never had that happen before.”
In Vilonia, Ark., just 30 miles north of Little Rock, rescue crews searched for those still missing while homeowners sifted through the rubble of what used to be their homes, many of which were ripped from their foundations.
Resident Michelle McGee said she could hear “the cracks and the pops” of the tornado as it bore down on her home.
“Those doors just kind of made a teepee surrounding us right in there, like angels holding doors right there, is how it felt,” she said.
She and her family spent Monday trying to salvage as many of their belongings as possible.
"This is my life that I worked so hard for and it's just, laying there in pieces,” she said tearfully. “So what do you do now?"
Tuesday’s forecast only added to the area’s collective frustration. More severe storms were predicted to push their way through a wide swath stretching from the Gulf Coast to the Southeast, bringing another round of tornadoes, hail and fierce winds.
“We’re not even close to being done just yet,” Roker said.