Nightly News | April 30, 2011
>>> good evening. again, a mounting death toll from this week's historic tornado outbreak here in the south. rescuers acknowledge time is running out to find survivors. as we come on the air tonight, officials say at least 341 people are dead across seven states, making this the country's second deadliest tornado outbreak ever. thousands of others are injured. the sheer number of people left homeless by this disaster has created what the mayor of tuscaloosa has called a humanitarian crisis. and that has prompted a tremendous response. nbc's john yang joins me now to lead off our coverage. john, folks here are going through an awful lot right now.
>> reporter: that's absolutely right, lester. you walk around this city, walk around this state, there are so many different emotions. relief at having survived, grief at having lost a loved one, desperation at not having a place to live right now. tonight struggling to pick up and move forward. in hardest-hit alabama today volunteers scrambled to deliver aid, distributing water, ice, and medical supplies to people left homeless by the record rash of devastating tornadoes. in tuscaloosa , with nearly 40 dead, at least 570 missing, and more than 1,000 injured, a remarkable relief effort. people cleaned up what was left of their homes and crews from out of state repaired power lines .
>> we still remain that shining city on a hill because the world has seen our faith in god and our faith in each other.
>> reporter: those who lost all their belongings are amazed they didn't lose their lives.
>> guess that's the place to be, under the stairway.
>> yeah. listen, it was for you and your wife.
>> reporter: this is what's left of where two generations of the hicks family lived side by side . mike hicks and his wife survived by taking cover in a closet. his son knoll sxn daughter-in-law tessa, newlyweds, by hiding in a bathtub.
>> went to sit in the bathtub and thought i'll look one more time out the window and when i did those palm trees were just snapped.
>> reporter: in neighborhoods like these across the region it's not just the residents digging out. it's neighbors helping neighbors, friends helping friends, families helping families, and even total strangers coming up, doing what they can to help. the search for the missing ranged from the papers of the tuscaloosa newspaper and its website to search and rescue squads deploying in pleasant grove , alabama , hoping for the best --
>> potentially this is the last viable day.
>> reporter: -- but fearing the worst. a psychologist specializing in disasters says the destruction will leave a mark. even on those whose jobs are to help.
>> i get very concerned about our first responders. they're well trained. they know what they're doing. but in a situation like this the impact of what's going on can be overwhelming.
>> reporter: a wide swath of the south remains without power. in alabama about 300,000 customers are still without electricity. outages also persist in mississippi, georgia, tennessee, and virginia. with the university of alabama where the tornadoes canceled the rest of the school year, parents picked up their children, grateful that they're safe.
>> we're just most thankful that he's okay. that's all we care about. you can replace everything else.
>> reporter: the federal government is turning its full resources to the recovery effort. fema's bringing in mobile units and trailers for the homeless. and tomorrow, lester, five cabinet heads will be on the ground to survey the damage and assess the needs.
>> all right. john yang . john, thanks very much.