CARBON HILL, Ala. – All that remained of some homes was memories and wreckage after a tornado plowed across the Carbon Hill area, killing seven people.
Sheryl Wakefield, the youngest of 10 children, was happy living amid her family in a cluster of six homes on a quiet country road, but on Monday hers was the only one undamaged.
She and her husband were joined in their storm cellar by their son and his family as the twister roared by in the darkness, heavily damaging or destroying the other five houses.
"My son doesn't even know where his home is. It's gone. It's just gone," she said Monday.
Streets and roads were blocked by fallen trees, power lines and sheet metal from mobile homes. Part of the roof was stripped from the elementary school.
"I reckon about a third of the town is gone," said Terry Murray, part of a crew surveying the damage caused by giant trees that crashed onto homes.
Carbon Hill, about 70 miles northwest of Birmingham, was struck by as many as three twisters Sunday night.
Many people were still at church or on the way home when the storms hit. Others were glued to their televisions watching radar images of what seemed like waves of funnel clouds.
Jeff Stough was driving along a dark road and the weather was "calm as anything."
"I went around a corner and it just hit. It blew me off the road, then it blew me back on it," Stough said.
Walker County Deputy Coroner Bob Green was at the scene where the bodies of two women were found beside a road.
"They were laying down off the side," he said. "It was bad. Carbon Hill had a bad time."
Wakefield said her 72-year-old sister, Audrey Alexander, and Alexander's daughter, Susan, died in the wreckage of their doublewide mobile home, its metal frame twisted around a broken tree.
"It took a long time for them to find them," Wakefield said.
Randall Garrison's house was damaged but can be repaired. Some of his neighbors were not as fortunate.
"Two mobile homes beside us are gone," said Garrison, who was on his way home from church when the storm struck. "My two outbuildings are blown away. The house right beside me, it took off its foundation. I thank God he had me at church."