Tornado Aftermath: Midwest, South Cleans Up After Series of Twisters

Residents are cleaning up after a series of tornadoes.

ByABC News
April 18, 2011, 2:27 AM

April 18, 2011— -- Residents in the Midwest and the South are cleaning up today after a series of tornadoes ripped through 14 states and left at least 45 people dead over the weekend.

More than 243 twisters have caused extensive damage from Oklahoma to Virginia since Thursday. Parts of the Midwest and the South were hit by flash floods and hail.

Roofs were torn off and power was knocked out throughout the region as the string of twisters tore through Oklahoma, Arkansas and into the south. In North Carolina, which received the brunt of destruction, as many as 60 twisters were spotted -- the state's worst outbreak in more than 25 years.

North Carolina Gov. Beverly Perdue toured areas devastated by Saturday's historic tornadoes and declared a state of emergency to get federal assistance. "I was truly sad, almost to the point of being tearful at times, to talk to the people," she said.

Baby Survives Twister

In another survival story, a 3-month-old baby survived after a tornado destroyed the family's Dunn, N.C., home. The baby was being taken care of by his cousin Jonathan Robinson when the tornado started ripping apart his home.

"While I'm running to the closet, I hear nothing but glass shatter. So I grab him and I hold him, I cover him up to keep from stuff falling on him and the next thing you know the whole back side of my trailer came down," said Robinson.

Robinson held onto Ayden as tightly as he could but it wasn't enough.

"The wind just took him straight out of my arms," Robinson said.

After the tornado passed, Robinson later found Ayden lying on top of some wood crying; the infant was taken to the hospital with minor injuries.

In Raleigh, N.C., Donald Freeman was at work Saturday when a tornado slammed into downtown Raleigh. When the storm died down, he started to walk home and couldn't believe the damage he saw in a park

"I was devastated at what I saw. Tents was turned upside down, trees split in half. And as I'm walking down the street I'm thinking about my home," said Freeman.

But through all this destruction, stories of narrow escapes and outpouring of support among neighbors have emerged.

Amazing Escapes in North Carolina

Authorities say a manager's quick thinking helped save nearly 100 lives at a Lowe's store in North Carolina. The twister that hit the store measured EF3 - which has a maximum speed of 160 miles per hour.

"Luckily we got everybody to the back before it hit us but as it was hitting us, we were kind of running and the roof was kind of peeling off," Michael Hollowell, the manager of the Lowe's in Sanford, N.C., told ABC News Radio.

About 70 employees and customers screamed at the same time when a tornado ripped off the store's roof.