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Gene Lewellyn, his son and his son’s 7-year-old daughter saw the tornado come over the hill, rushed to the basement of his one-story brick home and covered themselves with a carpet.

“It just shook once, and it (the house) was gone,” said Lewellyn, 62, a retired press operator.

Friday’s tornado outbreak had been forecast for days; meteorologists at the National Weather Service’s Storm Prediction Center had said the day would be one of a handful this year that warranted its highest risk level. The weather service issued 297 tornado warnings and 388 severe thunderstorm warnings from Friday through early Saturday.

In April, when tornadoes killed more than 240 people in Alabama, it issued 688 tornado warnings and 757 severe thunderstorm warnings from Texas to New York, said Greg Carbin, warning coordination meteorologist at the storm prediction center.

It was a distinction without a difference for Lewellyn, who spent Saturday picking through the debris in 38-degree cold. His family was safe, but their home was reduced to a pile of bricks and sheet metal wrapped around splintered trees. Pieces of insulation coated the ground, and across the street a large trailer picked up by the storm had landed on top of a boat.

“Right now, we are not sure what we are going to do,” he said. “We all get out what we can get out.”

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Suhr reported from New Pekin, Ind. Associated Press writers Kate Brumback in Chattanooga, Tenn., Tom LoBianco in Indianapolis and Bruce Schreiner in East Bernstadt, Ky., contributed to this report.