Sunday in the South: Mourning for tornado victims

By Michael Kunzelman

Associated Press

Published: Sunday, May 1 2011 12:00 a.m. MDT

In Alabama, similar scenes played out as residents struggled back to their feet. Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley had dispatched 2,000 National Guard troops around Alabama to help residents and keep the peace. Many blocked off roads or patrolled neighborhoods to keep away gawkers and looters.

Several Alabama National Guard troops helped Carletta Wooley, 27, sift through debris for any of her possessions. Wooley thanked a guardsman who handed her a photo of her 9-year-old son, A.J.

"I'm going to cry," she said. "It's a great help. They've reached a lot of things I couldn't get to on my own."

Down the street, Kevin Rice wasn't as lucky. He couldn't find anything he owned in the area where his trailer once stood. His family is staying at a motel as long as they can afford it. He's not sure where they'll go after that.

"It's just a hurting feeling," he said. "I don't know what to say."

Staff Sgt. Matthew Burbank said he and two other Guard troops found a tattered American flag in the rubble and flew it from a nearby pole.

As some tried to clear the rubble and sort through belongings, others took on the task of burying the dozens who died in weekend funerals.

But planning funerals was a struggle for many as they dealt with destroyed homes. There were also 35 deaths in Mississippi, 34 in Tennessee, 15 in Georgia, five in Virginia, two in Louisiana and one in Kentucky.

"A few of the families I met with, they've lost everything," said Jason Wyatt, manager of Tuscaloosa Memorial Chapel. "It's hard for me to hold my composure. They don't have clothing or anything."

Bluestein reported from Cordova. Kunzelman reported from Tuscaloosa, Ala. Associated Press writers Jeffrey Collins in Phil Campbell, Christopher Hawley and Michael Rubinkam in Rainsville, Jay Reeves and John Christofferson in Tuscaloosa, Ray Henry in Ringgold, Ga. and Emily Wagster Pettus in Jackson, Miss. contributed to this report.

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