Daily Digest: Southern storms, wedding jitters

by Katherine Lymn

Destruction hit the south yesterday, where storms killed more than 230 across five states. Tuscaloosa, Ala. got the worst, where a tornado flattened downtown, the New York Times reports today. “While we may not know the extent of the damage for days, we will continue to monitor these severe storms across the country and stand ready to continue to help the people of Alabama and all citizens affected by these storms,” President Obama said in a statement. The storm heads east this morning, and tornado warnings are out for Florida, Georgia, South Carolina and Maryland. Earlier storms had made the ground so wet that tornados could easily uproot trees and throw them into power lines rather than just snapping branches, said Michael Sznajderman of the Alabama Power Company. The Times has the story of the Smiths of Pleasant Grove, Ala., who survived the ravaging of their neighborhood, where a tornado destroyed a mile-long swath of town. Only a few walls are left of their home, and a sofa sits in the backyard. “It spared us,” Lee Smith said as he looked over an expanse of damage. “But it got everything else.” Officials expect the death toll to rise as the search for survivors continues.

The Birmingham News reports 125 of the killed were in Alabama, at least 26 of which were from metro Birmingham. The governor declared a state of emergency and dispatched 1,400 national guardsmen, the News reported. The University of Alabama was spared, save widespread loss of power, and served as a shelter for many students who  lost their homes. “People are coming up to the law school because they don’t have anywhere else to go,” a law student told the Times. “The school is sending buses into town to pick up students and bring them back to campus so they have somewhere safe to stay.” Check out the News’s shots of the damage to Pratt, Ala. here.

As anglophiles worldwide plan for waking up early or staying up late to catch the royal wedding on television, some Brits are sick of it already. The Guardian has an hour-by-hour guide of how to elude coverage of the wedding. “By now, you should have a finely honed instinct to change channels at the merest hint of a crown or a veil or some bunting or the phrase “street party,” the blog reads, “but if you haven’t, Friday will be a minefield.” For those who do want a part in all the details, here’s an interactive map of the trek Prince William and his fiance Kate Middleton will have on Friday. Poor girl, watch out for those high heels. If you’re not one of the 100,000 people lining the streets to watch the procession from afar, you can catch in on TV on the broadcast and news networks at 3 a.m.The Big Picture has a feature on the preparation.