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Deadly Tornadoes Hit Alabama Over The Weekend

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

The National Weather Service called it a large and extremely dangerous tornado in Alabama yesterday. It killed at least 23 people in Lee County. Video from the scene shows cars flipped over, pieces of metal clinging to trees. Reporter Joey Hudson from Troy Public Radio has been at the scene.

Good morning, Joey.

JOEY HUDSON, BYLINE: Good morning, David.

GREENE: Tell me about this community, Lee County, and what it is going through and what it looks like right now.

HUDSON: In Salem, it's largely a rural community. The houses are pretty spread out. But I've never seen the community as close as it has been in this past day. You see trucks driving up and down the road, people checking in on their neighbors. I've seen people, you know, lending chainsaws and water. There's just been trees covering all the roads, covering power lines, covering houses even. There's been houses without roofs, houses that you've passed a thousand times just not there anymore.

GREENE: Wow. You've passed them a thousand times. I mean, this is your community?

HUDSON: That's correct, yes. I grew up here, so it's been surreal. I spoke with a volunteer first responder, Robert Rumfelt (ph), who gave me an idea of the severity of the property damage.

ROBERT RUMFELT: The damage that I see is very widespread. I'm only getting one little window of it. When it's really bad, all you see are foundations on houses. And I don't know if we're in the deepest part of this yet, so I really can't say. But this was clearly - I mean, two or three miles from here, you can see trees snapped off.

GREENE: It's just amazing to hear. There was a tornado warning, right? I mean, did people have any time to get ready for this?

HUDSON: That's correct. Honestly, I don't know how you get ready for this. In school, we always had tornado warnings from time to time. But I think no one here really takes them that seriously. I think, you know, you just kind of go into the hall, put your head down and wait to go back to class. I was at a movie theater with my mother and my girlfriend. And the employees of the movie theater called us into the hall and told us to kind of stand by and wait to hear more. And they said, if we wanted to, we could go back to the movies. And I think pretty much everybody went back to the movie they were watching. And we got out of that theater, and it was like everything had changed.

GREENE: I'm sure. I hate to ask this, but we're looking at 23 dead now. Could that go up as rescuers get in there?

HUDSON: Well, the Lee County sheriff, Jay Jones, made that statement that the number of fatalities is currently at 23, and he does expect that number to rise, unfortunately. A spokesman for East Alabama Medical Center says they've received over 40 patients, as well.

GREENE: All right. I'm so sorry your community is going through this, and we'll hope for the best. Joey Hudson from Troy Public Radio talking to us on Skype this morning.

Thanks, Joey.

HUDSON: Thank you, David. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.