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Posted by gerald grable on April 29, 2011 at 9:18 PM Comments comments (0)

So many things are happening, so many prayers are needed.

UPDATED Friday, April 29, 2011 --- 5:30 a.m.


TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — President Barack Obama was due to travel to storm-ravaged Alabama Friday to meet with victims of the nightmare storms that have killed more than 300 people.

First lady Michelle Obama was to be by his side in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, as the president offered condolences. Late Thursday he signed a disaster declaration for the state to provide federal aid to those who seek it.

Tornadoes and violent storms tore through seven Southern states, killing an estimated 300 people and causing billions of dollars of damage in one of the deadliest swarm of twisters in U.S. history.

The powerful tornadoes — more than 160 reported in total — combined with storms to cut a swath of destruction heading west to east. It was the worst U.S. natural disaster since Hurricane Katrina in 2005, which killed up to 1,800 people.

On Thursday, firefighters searched one splintered pile after another for survivors, combing the remains of houses and neighborhoods of large large cities that bore the half-mile-wide scars the twisters left behind.

The death toll from Wednesday's storms seems out of a bygone era, before Doppler radar and pinpoint satellite forecasts were around to warn communities of severe weather. Residents were told the tornadoes were coming up to 24 minutes ahead of time, but they were just too wide, too powerful and too locked onto populated areas to avoid a horrifying body count.

"These were the most intense super-cell thunderstorms that I think anybody who was out there forecasting has ever seen," said meteorologist Greg Carbin at the National Weather Service's Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Oklahoma.

"If you experienced a direct hit from one of these, you'd have to be in a reinforced room, storm shelter or underground" to survive, Carbin said.