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2011 Alabama tornadoes: Many died despite seeking shelter

April 27, 2012|By Michael Muskal
  • On the one-year anniversary of deadly Alabama tornadoes, Tuscaloosa homeowner Gary Limmroth prays at the site where a University of Alabama student was found dead. Limmroth owned the rental house where the student was visiting, and he said he prays at the site daily.
On the one-year anniversary of deadly Alabama tornadoes, Tuscaloosa homeowner… (Dave Martin / Associated…)

A year after devastating tornadoes swept through Alabama, a preliminary study has found that less than half of those who died received some warning and many of those who took protective action were killed in shelters that could not withstand the strong winds.

The study, which has yet to be published, was carried out by researchers at the Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American Red Cross, CDC spokeswoman Vivi Abrams said by telephone. The American Red Cross shares disaster data with the CDC.

“These were catastrophic winds that could destroy pretty much anything in its path,” Cindy Chiu, an epidemic intelligence service officer, said, describing the preliminary findings at a CDC conference this month. Her remarks were reported by the Associated Press.

The April 27, 2011, storms included more than 60 tornadoes. Deaths were reported from the central portion of Alabama to the northern edge of the state.

Researchers looked at 247 deaths according to the latest summary of the data, Abrams said. Of that group, 102 people received a warning and 68 took some form of protective action, ranging from covering themselves or going to some safer place.

Forty-three people died in a room or shelter of the type recommended by the CDC, Abrams said of the preliminary findings.

No date for publication of the final report has been set, she said.


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