45 Dead as Tornadoes Pound South, Midwest

A storm stretching from Oklahoma to Virginia has spawned over 100 tornadoes.

April 17, 2011, 12:36 PM

April 17, 2011— -- At least 45 people have been confirmed dead after a furious storm that has reportedly spawned over 100 tornadoes during the past week tore through the Midwest and moved on to southern states, ravaging parts of North Carolina and leaving a trail of destruction in its wake, according to the Associated Press.

Rescue workers are searching for victims across hard-hit areas of North Carolina, where ten people were confirmed dead in Bertie County, according to county manager Zee Lamb.

People in large patches of the Midwest and the South had to contend with flash floods and hail the size of softballs as the storm that has been described as "hell on earth" pushed through their communities.

In Raleigh, N.C., apartment buildings had entire roofs torn off while three family members died in a mobile home park, according to Wake County spokeswoman Sarah Willamson-Baker.

"It's like a bomb literally went off in my yard," Sonya Kirby, a Raleigh homeowner told ABC News.

In Wake County, N.C., one man found himself sandwiched inside his car between flying debris after a roof was stripped off of a building and sent a power line straight through a van.

"The building came down on the car and I just got on the floorboard on the passenger side and hoping the glass wasn't going to break out," the man said.

Forty miles south of Raleigh in the town of Sanford, half of a Lowe's home improvement store was pulverized by the storm. 70 frightened customers were inside at the time, but were rushed to the back of the store. No one was injured in the incident.

"Everybody was kind of on the ground crouched and by that time, the roof was kinda coming off as we were running," Lowe's employee Mike Hollowell told ABC News.

Thousands across North Carolina are still without power as of Sunday, and Governor Beverly Perdue has declared a state of emergency.

Perdue has said that state emergency management officials told her that more than 20 have been killed since the storm bore down on North Carolina, but the emergency management agency said it had reports of 22 deaths, and the National Weather Service claims 23 died in the state.

In Virginia four deaths have been reported, but authorities have said that the number of casualties is likely to rise as crews search through leveled homes and businesses.

Virginia Department of Emergency Management spokesman Bob Spieldenner told The Associated Press that one tornado ripped across 12 miles of Gloucester County, uprooting trees and demolishing homes in its path.

Since Thursday there have been reports of 116 tornadoes across 8 states, and four separate tornadoes hit west-central Alabama in less than 6 hours, according to emergency management director Kevin McKinney.

The deadly line of storms moved through the South on Thursday in Oklahoma, where five tornados were reported, before moving to Arkansas, where the death toll rose to seven after Little Rock police said a mother and her 8-year-old son were killed by a tree that fell on their home.

A boy, 6, in Bald Knob, Ark., was killed when a tree fell on his home. In Garland County, a 24-year-old man and his 18-month-old daughter were killed after a tree struck by lightning fell on their mobile home.

"I didn't think it would happen to a friend of mine," said Kasey Neal, who lived nearby, "but now we're standing here talking about the loss of a friend and their little girl that they'll never get back."

The Associated Press contributed to this report

ABC News Live

ABC News Live

24/7 coverage of breaking news and live events