Amid devastation and death, there was one story of survival - a 9-month-old baby found alive after spending all night in a demolished house after a twister tore through town.
The baby was found Thursday, Jefferson County sheriff's Sgt. Mike Ozley said. Rescuers had been looking for the infant all day, he said. He had few details but did confirm the baby "was all right."It was not clear where the baby was taken. Ozley did not know the child's name or gender or the names or fate of family members.
The family of 4-year-old Dakota "Cody" Harding also had good news. The little boy had been left with neighbors after the storm went through, and amid the confusion, the two families had lost touch for much of Thursday. The neighbors finally got through to Cody's mother, Melissa Mathis, late in the day, she said.
"When he got on the phone, he said, `Mama,' and I said, `I love you," and he said, `I love you, too,' " Mathis said Friday. "Then he started talking about someone trying to take his ball away. I knew then he was OK. He was being Cody."
The tornado and related storms killed 32 people in Alabama Wednesday night, most of them in Jefferson County near Birmingham. Five people died as the storms moved through Georgia and one in Mississippi.
The tornado packed winds up to 250 mph, slamming telephone poles onto roads, crushing cars like accordions and ripping 50-year-old trees out of the ground by their roots in Pleasant Grove and other Birmingham suburbs.
Standing atop what had been the back wall of her trailer, shivering in the cold realizing most of her belongings were gone forever, Julia Knox still felt lucky.
"I'm alive. All the people I know and care about are alive," Knox said Thursday as she took inventory of what made it through the storm: a huge pile of clothes, a few pill bottles, her two dogs and two of her six cats that had shared her now-demolished home.
In addition to the 38 known dead, three people died Thursday near Gainesville, Ga., when flames raced through a mobile home during a storm. Authorities have not determined whether the fire was weather-related. And as the storm's remnants rolled eastward, a Marine sergeant at New River Marine Corps Air Station in North Carolina was killed by lightning that struck while he apparently was on a training run.
In Alabama, nearly all the dead lived in small communities west of Birmingham, where scores of houses were reduced to rubble. About 40 people were still in hospitals, some of them seriously injured.
Gov. Fob James estimated that 150 homes were destroyed and 300 heavily damaged. President Clinton declared parts of Alabama and Georgia disaster areas, clearing the way for federal aid.
"It's quite amazing, and I hope you all say a prayer for those folks tonight, and join with them in spirit as they rebuild," the president said during a visit to a high school in Carrollton, Ky.
Vice President Al Gore was scheduled to visit both Alabama and the Atlanta area Friday.
"We want to make absolutely certain that all of the disaster relief programs are operating in high gear," Gore said on "Good Morning America."