Bush to Tour Tornado Damaged Tennessee

February 8, 2008 12:00:00 AM PST
President Bush will tour tornado-damaged Tennessee today. It's among the worst of five states now dealing with a major recovery effort as hundreds of people try to salvage what's left.Residents across Tennessee, Kentucky, Mississippi, Alabama and Arkansas are still reeling after the nation's deadliest twister rampage in two decades.

President Bush, who declared five Tennessee counties major disaster areas and ordered federal aid, plans to visit today. For those who live in these states it's a story of devastation with the severe material damage and major recovery but even in their time of loss, there is an uplifting resilience in people in the communities.

Sifting through the debris, residents of Macon County Tennessee are now cleaning up and figuring out what to do next. Many people will have to rebuild from scratch. "There's nothing to build back to. I mean they're going to have to take bulldozers and take most of these structures completely down and start over again," said Macon County Mayor Shelvy Linville.

But out from the rubble there is an amazing story of survival. Eleven month old baby Kyson was found alive in a diaper after being thrown 300 feet by a twister. His mother didn't survive. "He's just a miracle, luck, god watching over him that's all it can be," Kyson's Grandfather.

President Bush plans to meet with local officials today to survey the devastation for himself.

But how much help is needed?

One town alone estimates damage at more than $70-million dollars. There is still no tally on the total economic toll of the deadly tornadoes which tore through five states. "It's inconceivable ... When you see the extent of the devastation...it is obviously an economic hit," said Tennessee Governor Phil Bredesen.

For now, displaced residents seek shelter at the American Red Cross as people pull together to make a comeback. "You got to stick together in times of crisis. Material things are one thing, but family is most important," said survivor Steve Gonzales.

In the aftermath of stunningly deadly and destructive tornadoes, this hard-hit community now has other worries; looters, power shortages and a large number of residents still unaccounted for.

It will be a long recovery. Local and Federal officials say they are working together to get things done quickly.


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