Tiny Town Of Phil Campbell, Alabama Flattened By Tornado

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By Cliff Renfrew
Radar Staff Reporter

The tiny town of Phil Campbell, Alabama has been devastated after a killer tornado literally flattened the rural community.

At least 12 people have been killed in the town which has a population of only 1,091.   So far, an estimated 247 people have died after over 160 tornadoes — some up to a mile wide — ripped through Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee, Georgia, Virginia and Kentucky.

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But the saddest story emerging could be that of tiny Phil Campbell. A huge tornado cut through the town at around 3pm destroying everything in its path on Wednesday.

Tragically, as residents sifted through the debris today one man riding a four wheeler was heard saying: “My family is all dead!”

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Another man was heard screaming into his cell phone: “Everywhere you go, the town is torn up – it is all gone.”

At least 12 people in Phil Campbell were either killed or unaccounted for as of 11 p.m., emergency officials revealed.

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Among those who died was an 8-year-old student at the elementary school, according to high school Principal Cindy Davis. Another emergency worker said a woman, her mother and a cousin were all killed together.

Tornadoes killed at least 72 people in the Southeast region Wednesday, including 58 in Alabama. Tuscaloosa officials reported 15 people being killed.

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Emergency workers fear those totals will rise today as search-and-rescue efforts continue.

Phil Campbell residents visibly panicked as two more storm systems arrived while workers cleared debris and searched for survivors.

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Phil Campbell Police Chief Merrell Potter said: “This is one of the most devastating things this area has ever faced – you’re never prepared for anything of this magnitude.”

Joe McGalliard, who lives at a local housing authority complex, said he was sore from being pelted by 2-by-4 boards. He considers himself fortunate. “I saw a 12-foot-long, 2-by-4 sticking plum through the side of my building,” he said.

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He said a local television station then reported that a large tornado was coming from Hackleburg and heading toward Phil Campbell but the warning came just as the tornado hit the town.

Within a minute, things calmed and McGalliard went to his bedroom to look for his pet Dachshund dog, Oscar.

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“I went in there to see if it took him with it, and saw bricks moving around on the bed, and Oscar was under them. I got him and left. The whole thing didn’t last a second, it seemed.”

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