Eric Schultz / AP
Steven Curet talks describes the damage to family members after severe weather hit Friday in the northern part of Madison County near Huntsville, Ala.
Patty Ballard had just returned to her doublewide mobile home with her 6-year-old granddaughter Sydney when she saw on TV that the tornado was coming, the Gannett news site Nky.com reported. She grabbed her granddaughter and ran next door to her neighbor’s house.
When she couldn’t rouse anyone by banging on the front door they ran to the back sliding doors. Ballard said the tornado picked her and her granddaughter up and threw them back down on the ground.
“It’s unreal how scary and how fast it is,” Ballard told the news site.
They eventually were able to get into the basement of the house, which had sustained major damage, the report said.
Crittenden is a town about 20 miles south of Cincinnati in Grant county Kentucky with a population of about 2,400.
Kenton county, Ky.
Children from a Kentucky school about 15 miles south of Cincinnati have been marooned in their school bus after storms debris blocked roads on their way home, Nyk.com reported. At 8:43 p.m. EST, Kenton county school superintendent was waiting for the students, ranging from kindergarten through seventh grade, to return to Piner Elementary School, according to the report, which said it was not known how many children were on the bus.
The news director for local radio station WSIP, Scott Ratcliff, said the latest storm to pass through had knocked the station off the air. He said that because of widespread phone outages, emergency management personnel were going door to door to check on residents, after the area was hit by high winds and hail around 7:30 p.m. ET. Tornadoes had been reported in surrounding counties, he said, but he did not have confirmation that a tornado had hit Paintsville.
Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear declared a statewide emergency, giving local officials the ability to tap into state resources for recovery and public safety efforts, NBC affiliate WBIR in Knoxville reported.
"We have reports of heavy damage in some areas of the state already, but the storm system has not cleared Kentucky yet," said Beshear. "By declaring a state of emergency now for the entire state, we can deploy any needed state assistance, such as National Guard troops, without delay."
In the birthplace of Kentucky Fried Chicken founder Harland Sanders, Henryville Junior-Senior High School was destroyed in the storms, but no students were injured, a news crew from NBC affiliate WAVE 3 in Louisville, Ky., said.
A teacher at the school said students were dismissed at 2:30 p.m., 20 minutes early, because of the threat of severe weather, the report said. When buses could not get everyone home before the tornado hit, the remaining students were returned to the school and took shelter as the school was hit.
Ernie Hall, 68, weathered the tornado inside his tiny home near the high school. Hall said he saw the twister coming down the road toward his house, whipping up debris in its path, The Associated Press reported.
Clark County Indiana Sheriff Maj. Chuck Adams talks about the tornado damage that has been reported in his area. WAVE's Chief Meteorologist Kevin Harned reports.
He and his wife ran into an interior room and used a mattress to block the door as the tornado struck. It destroyed his car and blew out the picture window overlooking his porch.
"There was no mistaking what it was," he said.
Ruth Simpson of Salem, Ind., came to the demolished town right after the storm hit, looking for relatives that she hadn't been able to find, the AP reported.
"I can't find them," she said, starting to cry, and then walked away.
Henryville, which suffered severe and extensive damage, was also hit by large hail, captured in this photograph by Larry Johnson, a resident of the town. Despite the extensive damage in the area, Johnson said, his own home was unscathed.
Courtesy of Larry Johnson
Image taken by Larry Johnson, resident of Henryville, Ind. of large hail which fell during a string of severe storms and tornadoes that have ripped through the Midwest and South.
The storm forced the closure of Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport for about an hour on Friday. Airport spokeswoman Barb Schempf said three runways reopened Friday evening after workers removed tree limbs.
Schempf said flights were delayed while others were canceled and suggested that anyone flying check with the airline before going to the airport, The Associated Press reported.
From the Ohio border all the way to southern parts of Alabama, tornado warnings are all over the map in a widespread, massive dangerous outbreak of storms. The Weather Channel's severe weather expert Dr. Greg Forbes reports.
The Limestone Correctional Facility, a maximum-security prison about 10 miles from Huntsville, took a direct hit, WHNT, a CBS affiliate in Hunstville, reported. Staff and an estimated 300 inmates at the prison were reported safe and secure, and damage assessments were under way. One bloodhound was missing, the report said.
Elsewhere in Huntsville, population 180,000, most children safely rode out the storm's passage because it took place during the school day, the mayor told The Associated Press.
"Most of the children were in schools, so they were in the hallways, so it worked out very well," said Mayor Tommy Battle.
The scene after hail struck just north of Evansville on Friday, via Twitter.
Mark Elliott / @MarkElliottWIKY
The scene after a hailstorm in Evansville, Ind. Friday.
Blaine Lawson and his wife, Billie, were watching the weather when the power went out. Just as they began to seek shelter, strong winds ripped the roof off their home. Neither was hurt.
"It just hit all at once," said Blaine Lawson, 76. "Didn't have no warning, really. The roof, insulation and everything started coming down on us. It just happened so fast that I didn't know what to do. I was going to head to the closet but there was just no way. It just got us."
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
NOAA estimated that Friday would be one of the top five most active days for tornados this year, with 37 million people in areas of high and moderate risk nationwide.
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