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Death toll from tornadoes in Midwest, South rises to 39

Posted by Stephen Ndungu  March 5, 2012 03:34 PM

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The death toll from the tornadoes that swept across the South and Midwest last week rose to 39 today after a baby discovered in an Indiana field died Monday.

Victims of the massive storms spent the weekend trying to comprehend the level of destruction on the region. The tornadoes hit hard in Illinois and Missouri -- a state that has not fully recovered from an EF-5 tornado that hit in May 2011. Harrisburg, Ill. was one of the hardest hit towns -- devastated by an EF-4 tornado that killed at least six people.

The tornadoes have sparked an outpouring of emotion from those in the Western Massachusetts' communities hit by a series of tornadoes last June. Members of the Monson Facebook page helped create a Facebook support page for the people in Harrisburg.

Harrisburg Mayor Eric Gregg offered a statement on the town website thanking those that were sending their condolences and asking people to unite and help in the cleanup process.

“The many offers of assistance are also appreciated and will surely be needed as we begin the cleanup process,” Gregg said. “We are going to take care of every man, woman and child in this community.”

The governor of Missouri declared a state of emergency and also told CNN that the tornado caused damage in the tens of millions, causing severe damage to the town of Branson.

“We are confident that Branson will be back bigger and better than ever,” Nixon told CNN.

Some resident who have lived in this areas, said they were shocked to see such an amount of damage. Steven Scharmanzera, a resident of Branson, told CNN: “I’ve never seen anything like this in the 20 years I’ve lived here."

Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway passed his condolences and prayers to the affected families and also warned on price-gouging in the wake of the storms.

"My thoughts and prayers are with the many families and communities in Kentucky affected by Friday's historic tornados," Conway said. "As the difficult clean-up begins, I want to ensure that those who are suffering are not victimized again by unscrupulous businesses. My office stands ready to investigate and prosecute anyone who seeks excessive profits during this time of emergency."

This blog is not written or edited by Boston.com or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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About the authors

Students in Steve Fox's Investigative Journalism & the Web class at UMass-Amherst have teamed up with the Globe to take a close-up look at the painful process of rebuilding from the June 2011 tornadoes that killed four and devastated communities in the Springfield area. Their work will also appear in the Boston Globe. Steve joined the journalism faculty at UMass-Amherst in 2007 and has 25 years of experience as an editor and reporter for print and online publications, including 10 as an editor at The Washington Post's award-winning website.

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