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Tornadoes Roar Through South, Midwest

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Over the course of five days last week, more than 150 tornadoes were reported across a dozen states. Belonging to two separate weather systems, they left enormous trails of wreckage strewn across the southern United States and Ohio River Valley and took the lives of 39 people. At least two of the tornadoes were given the severe rating of EF4, with sustained winds of between 267 and 322 kph (166 - 200 mph). Many residents have now returned to their damaged farms and neighborhoods to search for items that may have survived the storms, assess the damage, and plan their next steps. The images gathered here show the ferocity of these forces of nature and the fragility of even the strongest man-made structures. [39 photos]

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Greg Cook hugs his dog Coco after finding her inside his destroyed home in the East Limestone, Alabama, on Friday, March 2, 2012. (AP Photo/The Decatur Daily, Gary Cosby Jr.)
Greg Cook hugs his dog Coco after finding her inside his destroyed home in the East Limestone, Alabama, on Friday, March 2, 2012. (AP Photo/The Decatur Daily, Gary Cosby Jr.)
Broken branches and household debris are scattered across a lawn early Wednesday morning, February 29, 2012 in Harveyville, Kansas, after an apparent tornado passed through the town Tuesday night. (AP Photo/Emporia Gazette, Matthew Fowler) #
This Thursday, March 1, 2012 satellite image shows the path of a tornado, diagonal from bottom left to upper right, which struck Harrisburg, Illinois. The twister killed six people before dawn on February 29, 2012. (AP Photo/GeoEye) #
Residents look over the remains of St. Joseph's Catholic Church in Ridgeway, Illinois, on March 1, 2012. The 110-year-old church was completely destroyed after it was struck by a tornado early Tuesday morning. (Scott Olson/Getty Images) #
A police officer checks his phone while standing amid wreckage in Henryville, Indiana, on March 2, 2012, after a series of powerful tornadoes tore through southern Indiana, killing at least 14 people and leaving several small towns in ruin. At least one person was confirmed dead in hard-hit Henryville. (AP Photo/SWAT Chasers, Chris Bergin via the Indianapolis Star) #
Janessa Lewellyn, sitting in her father's car, looks back towards her grandparents' house after a tornado ripped it apart outside of New Pekin, Indiana, on March 2, 2012. (AP Photo/The Courier-Journal, Matt Stone) #
Storm clouds move over west of Palmyra, Indiana, on March 2, 2012. (AP Photo/The Courier-Journal,David Lee Hartlage) #
Steve McDonald stands outside a barely-standing closet, part of the damaged home of his mother-in-law, Mary Osman, who was killed after a tornado touched down February, 29, 2012 in Harrisburg, Illinois. (Whitney Curtis/Getty Images) #
The town of Holton fire fighters (from left) Shaun Kreider and Eric Grossman and Town Marshal Bob Curl (right) bow their heads in prayer during a non-denominational church service for people that lost loved ones or are dealing with their destroyed homes after a tornado passed through the town on March 4, 2012 in Holton, Indiana. The Holton Methodist Church held the service due to the other churches in town being too damaged to be used. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images) #
Debris is strewn about in this aerial photo of Marysville, Indiana, on Saturday, March 3, 2012, after a tornado swept through the area. To see what the small town looked like before last week, Google maps has a fairly detailed view. (AP Photo/Al Behrman) #
Debris from homes and trees litter the path of Friday's tornado in Henryville, Indiana, on Saturday, March 3, 2012. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy) #
Student Madeline Evans walks past a destroyed school bus after a tornado devastated the town of Henryville, Indiana, on March 3, 2012. Rescue teams and residents combed through storm-wracked towns to assess damage on Saturday from a chain of tornadoes that cut a 1,000-mile swath of destruction from the Midwest to the Gulf of Mexico. (Reuters/Indiana National Guard/Sgt. John Crosby) #
The porch of a building destroyed by a chain of tornadoes, amid the debris in West Liberty, Kentucky, on March 4, 2012. (Reuters/Eric Thayer) #
Tufts of pink fiberglass insulation hang from the branches of a tree in front of a home damaged by a chain of tornadoes in West Liberty, Kentucky, on March 4, 2012. (Reuters/Eric Thayer) #
Nine-year-old Talla Hill collects stuffed animals strewn in her front yard after a tornado touched down on February 29, 2011, in Harveyville, Kansas. (Julie Denesha/Getty Images) #
A pummeled scale sits amid the wreckage in West Liberty, Kentucky, March 4, 2012, after a chain of tornadoes struck the area. (Reuters/Eric Thayer) #
A volunteer walks down a tornado-ravaged street March 3, 2012 in Henryville, Indiana. (Scott Olson/Getty Images) #
Mel Pulliam of Ridgedale, Missouri, helps his daughter pull belongings from her car that was damaged in the tornado that struck Branson, Missouri early on February 29, 2012. His daughter, Tracy Kimmel, was working at a restaurant on the Branson Landing when the storm hit. In the background is the Hilton Hotel, which was heavily damaged. (AP Photo/Todd Feeback/Kansas City Star) #
Justin Pace helps clean up the home of Gene and Tammy Humphrey in Harrison, Tennessee, on March 3, 2012. Emergency crews desperately searched for survivors Saturday after a violent wave of Midwest and Southern storms flattened some rural communities and left behind a trail of destruction: shredded homes, downed power lines and streets littered with tossed cars. (AP Photo/Billy Weeks) #
A girl attending mass at St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church sits in a pew in front of clothing and supplies that have been collected to aid victims of a tornado in Henryville, Indiana, on March 4, 2012. The church was in the path of a tornado that destroyed much of the town. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy) #
A man photographs debris seen from the home of the Stevens family, demolished by a twister in Charlotte, North Carolina, on March 4, 2012. A 7-year-old boy, Jamal Stevens, is recovering after winds snatched him from his bed and threw him more than 100 meters onto an embankment -- he suffered only minor injuries. (Reuters/Chris Keane) #
A worker emerges from a tornado shelter to see if there is any new damage to the area already damaged by an earlier tornado on March 2, 2012, in Athens, Alabama. (AP Photo/Butch Dill) #
Buildings damaged by a chain of tornadoes in West Liberty, Kentucky, on March 4, 2012. (Reuters/Eric Thayer) #
From left, Alli Ferrell, 10, and cousin Christian Murray, 12, sit on the front porch, as Lindsey Murray, 15, of Harrisburg, Illinois, paints "For sale! Fixer upper" on the side of the home of their grandmother, Sharon Murray, after a tornado destroyed the house in Harrisburg, Illinois, on February 29, 2012. A prosthetic leg (propped against wall) was also found among the wreckage. (AP Photo/Stephen Lance Dennee) #
Carolyn Taulbee looks at her belongings left behind by tornado destruction in East Bernstadt, Kentucky, on March 3, 2012. (Reuters/Harrison McClary) #
An airplane rests upside down after a tornado passed through the Paulding Northwest Atlanta Airport in Dallas, Georgia, on March 3, 2012. (Reuters/Tami Chappell) #
16-year-old Jimmy Johnson, of Melanin, Indiana, spells out "In God We Trust" with debris from Friday's storm, on March 4, 2012, behind his grandmother Ida Gibson's home in Holton, Indiana. (AP Photo/Ernest Coleman) #
Walton firefighters carry a woman who was trapped under debris behind a house, on March 2, 2012 in Boone County, Kentucky. (AP Photo/The Cincinnati Enquirer, Patrick Reddy) #
Jeremy Lawrence raises donation money for Help Henryville on the street in Charlestown, Indiana, on March 3, 2012. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh) #
Tasos Pantelidis searches through a home destroyed by a tornado in Marysville, Indiana, on March 4, 2012. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh) #
A damaged home stands in a field of debris in Henryville, Indiana, on March 4, 2012. (Reuters/Aaron P. Bernstein) #
Debris from Friday's EF4 tornado remains scattered around a home in Henryville, Indiana, on March 4, 2012. (Scott Olson/Getty Images) #
Volunteers help gather debris that is strewn around from homes that were destroyed by a tornado in Marysville, Indiana, on March 4, 2012. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images) #
Residents cover their homes with tarps as they begin to recover from Friday's tornado in Henryville, Indiana, on Saturday, March 3, 2012. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy) #
Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear flies over the tornado devastated town of West Liberty, in a Kentucky National Guard UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter, on March 3, 2012. (Reuters/Kentucky National Guard/Capt. Stephen Martin) #
A school bus that was thrown through the front of Budroe's Restaurant fills the entry to the dining room in Henryville, Indiana, on March 3, 2012. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy) #
Volunteers clean up debris after a tornado struck in Harrison, Tennessee, on March 3, 2012. (AP Photo/Billy Weeks) #
A church damaged by a chain of tornadoes in West Liberty, Kentucky, on March 4, 2012. (Reuters/Eric Thayer) #
Jamal Stevens, age 7, with his father, Tyrone Stevens, at his grandparents' home in Charlotte, North Carloina, on March 4, 2012. The day before, their home was destroyed by a tornado, and Jamal was snatched from his bed and thrown 107m (350ft) onto the embankment of a nearby interstate. Stevens suffered only minor injuries, and was found by his family within a few minutes. (Reuters/Chris Keane) #

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