"When you aren't at the scene of the tornado, you don't know how serious of a situation it is until you get to the hospital and see the victims," Barbara Connolly said.
Connolly was working at the Kettering Memorial Hospital, near Dayton, Ohio, as a social worker intern when the 1974 Super Outbreak occurred. She assisted tornado victims, which flooded the normally-clear hospital hallways, the day after the twisters struck.
"Realizing how seriously hurt so many people were was overwhelming," she said.
April 3-4, 2014, marks the 40th anniversary of the horrific tornado outbreak, which claimed the lives of more than 300 people and injured more than 6,000 others.
One victim, a young girl whose parents were separated at another hospital after a tornado destroyed their home, remains imprinted in Connolly's memory.
"A tragedy like that sticks with you, you have to experience it firsthand to realize what an impact a tornado has on the families involved," Connolly said. "I admired their resilience to get back to their normal lives and rebuild their community."
A total of 148 tornadoes touched down from Alabama to Ohio over the course of the outbreak, leveling entire towns. One of the most notorious tornadoes tore through Xenia, Ohio.