After Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley’s office announced the deaths of another nine Alabamans, the tornado-torn state now has 204 confirmed deaths, as firefighters continue to search through tornado debris.
Along with the 33 deaths in Mississippi, 33 in Tennessee, 14 in Georgia, five in Virginia, and one in Kentucky reported earlier Thursday, the six southern states now have a total of at least 290 deaths.
The tornado-spawning storms that ripped through the South Wednesday afternoon and evening also damaged hundreds of homes and injured hundreds if not thousands of people—nearly 800 in Alabama’s Tuscaloosa alone.
"The loss of life has been heartbreaking, especially in Alabama," President Barack Obama said at the White House Thursday afternoon. "In a matter of hours, these deadly tornadoes, some of the worst that we’ve seen in decades, took mothers and fathers, sons and daughters, friends and neighbors, even entire communities."
Obama said we cannot control "when or where a terrible storm may strike, but we can control how we respond to it."
Upon approving Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley’s request for emergency federal assistance Wednesday evening, Obama announced Thursday morning that he will travel to Alabama on Friday to view the damage and meet with Bentley, state and local officials, and families affected by the storms.
The National Weather Service’s Storm Prediction Center documented 164 tornado reports on Wednesday, making this month’s total nearly 800 so far. After the deadliest tornado day in the United States since 310 people were killed on April 3, 1974, the weather seems to be calming down with no more tornado watches from the SPC.