(Photo: REUTERS/ John Sommers II)
Deadly storms that ripped through the Midwest and South on Friday left at least 34 people dead in four states.
Kentucky reported 17 fatalities as of Saturday. Tornadoes also killed 14 in Indiana, two in Ohio and one in Alabama.
"I want the people of Indiana, Kentucky, and other states that were impacted to know that our prayers are also with them following these storms," said Alabama Governor Robert Bentley on Saturday. "The people of Alabama can identify with you and stand with you during this difficult time."
The thunderstorms on Friday spawned dozens of tornadoes, flattening towns and leaving thousands without power.
Andy Bell told The Associated Press that his town of Henryville in Indiana is literally "all gone."
In Chelsea, Ind., Teri Kleopferi told WTHR that her husband's aunt, uncle and 4-year-old granchild were killed. Their bodies were found in a field.
"I tried to gather my thoughts last night about the family," she said as she held back tears. "It's been hard."
While she said the homes and possessions lost in the tornadoes were "just things," she noted, "We can't replace them (family)."
Officials in each state are touring devastated areas on Saturday to assess the damage. Nonprofit orgnanizations including The Salvation Army and Samaritan's Purse have also dispatched relief units to the newly affected areas, though many are already providing aid in states (such as Illinois and Tennessee) where tornadoes touched down earlier in the week.
Samaritan's Purse, headed by evangelist Franklin Graham, announced that it is sending out Disaster Relief Units from its headquarters in North Carolina to Henryville and Madison in Indiana, West Liberty, Ky., and another location.
Southern Baptist Disaster Relief leaders have also begun assessing the devastation to determine the best way to respond. Coy Webb, state DR director for Kentucky Baptist Convention Webb, reported plans to deploy chaplains and chainsaw teams. Meanwhile, volunteers in other states such as Florida and Georgia where a tornado watch has been issued are on standby.