Sarah Green, Staff Writer:
While there have certainly been some mishandled response efforts in the past, President Obama and the U.S. government are quickly stepping up their efforts to help citizens in the South who were most affected by last week’s tornado. This tornado was the second deadliest in our nation’s history, leaving a wake of destruction in its path. The twister falls just below the 1925 tornado which killed nearly 750 citizens in the Midwest.
The Enhanced Fujita scale which measures tornado intensities calculated one of last week’s funnels at 205 miles per hour. That places the twister as a rare EF-5. The people in the impacted states are accustomed to tornadoes, but such intense hits are very infrequent.
Many of the survivors stated that this tornado was not just the typical wind; rather, it was an explosion. One individual said that
it’s like an alien world. Indeed, the destruction down South reflects the images of rubble and personal possessions seen after the recent tsunami in Japan.
This tornado is by far the worst natural disaster to strike the United States since Hurricane Katrina occurred in 2005. President
Obama recently paid a visit to Alabama, the worst-hit state. The magnitude of the damages is just heartbreaking, according to our commander-in-chief.
Approximately 350 people were killed during the catastrophe, but thousands more were severely and moderately injured. Two hundred forty-nine of those reported fatalities came from Alabama alone. Over 100 more deaths were reported in Mississippi, Tennessee, Arkansas, Georgia, Virginia and Louisiana. And the death toll is expected to continue to rise as rescue crews finish sorting through the debris.
Plus, around 10,000 homes and businesses were completely destroyed and thousands of people were left homeless. Presently, the survivors of this tragedy who are unable to seek shelter with friends or family members are camped out amidst the wreckage. Water and electricity are still down in several communities as well.
Estimates place the total property losses at approximately two to five billion dollars. In an effort to aid the victims, top federal officials visited the disaster zone in order to assess the damages and to formulate a plan for federal assistance. These officials included Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Administrator Craig Fugate.
President Obama, well aware of the criticism George W. Bush faced for the government’s slow response to Katrina, wasted no time before pledging full federal assistance to the affected states. Recovery efforts could complicate matters for these states and their attempts to move out of the recession. Nevertheless, the volunteers have already begun turning up en masse. Once again, the American people have demonstrated one of the most beautiful aspects of our country – the willingness of so many people to lend a helping hand when one is truly needed.