Baby Dropped in Field by Tornado Dies

Cis GruebbelFifteen-month-old Angel Babcock seemed to be
the miracle survivor of a deadly tornado that killed her parents and
two siblings when she arrived Friday night at Kosair Children’s Hospital
in Louisville, Ky. Though critically injured, she was opening her eyes,
and hospital workers said that was a hopeful sign.

Pictured: Vice President Patient Care Services and Chief Nursing Officer Cis Gruebbel
announces the death of Angel Babcock, 14-months-old, during a news
conference at Kosair Children’s Hospital in Louisville, Ky., Sunday,
March 4, 2012.
(AP Photo/Stephen Lance Dennee)


But the New Pekin,
Ind., girl’s condition deteriorated Saturday as her brain swelled, chief
nursing officer Cis Gruebbel said. As the day went on, Angel’s eyes
ceased to move, and there was no sign of brain activity. Medical staff
told her family there was nothing more they could do.

Angel’s
death Sunday ended a hopeful tale for survivors in the Midwest and
South and brought to 39 the number of people killed by the storms that
devastated five states.

As residents picked
through the rubble and made plans to bury their dead, they also began
trying to find a semblance of normalcy as officials continued to assess
the damage.

The National Weather Service in
Louisville, Ky., said the tornado that struck New Pekin measured an EF-3
on the enhanced Fujita scale, while another tornado that struck nearby
Henryville, Ind., was stronger yet, measuring an EF-4 and packing winds
of 175 mph.

Theresa McCarty, owner of Pop Top
Bar in New Pekin, said her husband was with emergency workers Friday
when they found the Babcock family. Their bodies had been scattered, she
said.

McCarty, her friends and co-workers
talked about establishing the bar as a central refuge for victims of the
tornado from the immediate region, including making roughly 1,000 meals
Sunday for victims and volunteers.

But when she talked about the Babcock family, she got quiet: “It was the whole family.”

Speaking
from his bed at the University of Louisville Hospital, Jason Miller
told NBC’s “Today” show Monday that he saw the Babcock family outside as
the storm was bearing down and took them into his home. As the tornado
hit, they took shelter in the hallway, grabbed hands and began praying.

Miller said he remembers being sucked up into the air but blacked out soon after. His arm, back and five ribs were broken.

“It’s
very saddening to hear that the whole family passed away and I was
sitting right there holding their hands two seconds before they died,”
Miller said.

Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels told
CBS’ “Face the Nation” that the twister “moved like a lawnmower though
some of the most beautiful countryside, and some of the most beautiful
towns that we have.”

In Henryville, about 20
miles north of Louisville, school was canceled for the week because of
heavy damage to the education complex housing elementary through high
school students.

Even so, small signs of normalcy slowly began to emerge.

Utility
crews replaced downed poles and restrung electrical lines. Portable
cell towers went up, and a truck equipped with batteries, cellphone
charging stations, computers and even satellite television was headed to
Henryville on Monday.

“We’re going to keep
living,” said the Rev. Steve Schaftlein during a Sunday service at St.
Francis Xavier Catholic Church, where about 100 people gathered under a
patched-up 6-foot hole in the church’s roof to worship and catch up on
news of the tornado.

Many relied on word of mouth as communications continued to be difficult.

“It’s horrible. It’s things you take for granted that aren’t there anymore,” said Jack Cleveland, 50, a Census Bureau worker.

Lisa
Smith, who has been Henryville’s postmaster for six weeks, told people
that they could pick up their mail in Scottsburg, about 10 miles north. A
local insurance agent, Lyn Murphy-Carter, used paper and pen to gather
handwritten claims from policyholders.

In West
Liberty, Ky., about 85 miles east of Lexington, the roar of chain saws
filled the air as utility workers battled chilly weather and debris to
get electricity restored to the battered town. Almost 19,000 customers
were without power in Kentucky, according to the state’s Public Service
Commission, and a few thousand more from municipal utilities and TVA,
which the PSC does not track.

In Indiana,
about 2,700 remained without power, down from 8,000 in the hours after
the storms. But in some hard-hit areas, like Henryville, a substation
and transmission lines need to be rebuilt, and that could take up to a
week.

Even with life upended in so many ways, one family got a reminder that a deadly tornado can’t uproot everything.

The
home that Shalonda Kerr shares with her husband and Jack Russell
terrier outside of Chelsea, Ind., was obliterated: The front wall was
ripped clean, leaving the home looking eerily like a shaken dollhouse.
An upended couch and a tipped-over fish tank lay in the rubble.

The mailbox was untouched. Its front hatch was tipped open, revealing a white piece of paper.

“Inside was a $300 IRS bill,” Kerr said, laughing amid the ruins.

Schreiner reported from West Liberty, Ky. Jason Keyser contributed from Marysville, Ind.

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