Nightly News | April 18, 2011
>>> good evening, and we are back here in venice, louisiana, tonight. this is the beating heart of the fishing and shrimp industry in this part of the world, and it is hard to believe it's been a year since it was all stopped cold by the bp oil disaster. tonight we'll take a look at how they're doing here one year later. we're going to begin, however, tonight to our north. a natural disaster this past weekend, and here's what it did. call this the anatomy of a storm. it starts in iowa, thursday morning. it sweeps across the country, and by the time it was out to sea, staggering destruction behind it. records that may stand for all time in our country. 240 reports of tornadoes. as of tonight 44 people dead across six states. we have two reports to start off with tonight. we're going to begin with nbc's kerry sanders in north carolina . kerry, good evening.
>> reporter: well, brian, with 22 of the deaths here, north carolina was hit the hardest. one of the twisters came right through here, leveling everything in its path.
>> there goes the roof oft our house.
>> reporter: as many as 35 tornadoes hopscotched across north carolina . recarving the landscape.
>> a tornado right now.
>> reporter: in raleigh a shaw university student captured the chaos has classmates ran for cover. the devastation here is heart-breaking. homes upended or worse, splintered into a million pieces by winds estimated by the weather service to have been up whipping at 165 miles per hour. in raleigh, two brothers and a cousin died when a tree came down on their trailer. the 9, 8, and 3-year-olds were holding each other huddled in a closet.
>> i'm so sorry they heeded all the warnings and did everything they could and still sacrificed.
>> reporter: amid the sorrow, this is also inspiration. in sanford, north carolina , the assistant manager at this lowe's hardware store turned hero when he ordered more than 100 panicked customers to the back of the store now.
>> if any of the employees had hesitated another 20 seconds, we might have been out in the middle of the store when it hit.
>> everybody in that building was a hero.
>> reporter: north carolina governor beverley purdue toured the damage today. 11 residents here died including 90-year-old helen white, her picture salvaged today by her granddaughter, morgan. what does it mean to have to hold onto that?
>> comfort, memories, sad.
>> reporter: another cherished heirloom, their grandfather's american flag . morgan and her sister madison today hung it in the tree they climbed as children.
>> they were good people, and they deserve to be represented that way. i think that this flag is at least a little bit of that representation.
>> reporter: this is among the poorest in the nation. a quarter of the residents here live in poverty, which is why government officials say state and federal aid will be critical in the rebuilding. brian.
>> kerry, thanks. kerry sanders in colrain, north carolina tonight. that