Nightly News   |  January 23, 2012

Deadly storms in the Southeast

Alabama was especially hard-hit, with at least two people killed and 100 injured. Weather Channel Meteorologist Eric Fisher reports.

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>> weather making news tonight, but not the kind we are used to seeing in january. a violent, fast-moving storm swept across the south and brought tornados and serious damage. at least two people were killed. 100 others injured. weather channel meteorologist eric fisher joins us from center point, alabama, near birmingham. good evening to you.

>> reporter: savannah, we just put the disastrous year of 2011 to bed and here we stand amidst the rubble and broken homes. twisters opened up wounds in this part of the country that has only just begun to heal. the turbulent weather packed strong winds, spawning two dozen reported tornados and leaving behind a path of destruction .

>> as soon as i had gotten in the bath tub and put the pillow over my head there was this destruction, the whole roof went away.

>> reporter: alabama was the hardest hit. some neighborhoods in the birmingham area now look like war zones. it's an all-too-familiar sight for this region. some tracked near areas devastated by historic deadly tornados last april.

>> i don't know how you start over from this. we're thankful to be alive. i want to move, i know that. i don't know where, but somewhere that does not have tornados.

>> reporter: residents were left to pick up the shattered pieces of their lives. this time after a rare mid-winter tornado outbreak .

>> we were anticipating more like having to be ready for ice or snow or frozen rain, not tornados.

>> reporter: many residents had little time to seek shelter before their homes began to crumble.

>> we made it in the nick of time . the good lord blessed us and we're glad we're here. we lost our house, but at least we have -- i'm sorry. we've got our family and that's all that matters right now.

>> reporter: in arkansas where the national weather service confirms a tornado touched down, russ smith and his family fled their home for stronger shelter. they returned to find their house is in pieces.

>> lord spared us and helped us to make the decision to get out of here and it saved our lives.

>> reporter: latest word is that the winds topped out at 150 miles per hour. that's the strength rarely seen in the month of january.

>> the weather channel 's eric fisher and the aftermath of the storm.