- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 13, 2002

MOSSY GROVE, Tenn. (AP) Thirty-nine persons who had been missing after a deadly tornado tore through the area turned up alive yesterday, as survivors of storms in 13 states struggled to put their lives back together.
Around the Morgan County community, clothes fluttered from tree limbs, power lines dangled from poles, cars lay crumpled like discarded toys.
"Yesterday, we had a nice brick house and four vehicles. Today, we don't own a toothbrush," said Susan Henry of Mossy Grove, the devastated tiny town about 40 miles west of Knoxville.
One person remained missing in the area, down from an initial high of 40, state emergency management officials said yesterday. Rescuers had thought most of them were alive but out of touch with family because the storm disabled phones and blocked roads. Seven persons were killed in eastern Tennessee's Morgan County, which includes Mossy Grove.
In Tennessee's Coffee County, an aunt of 10-year-old Hobart Martinez, who was killed when his family's home collapsed, dug with her hands in the muddy heap of her relatives' belongings, looking for family photos and mementos and found a box for the boy's favorite toy, PlayStation.
"He was a sweet, lovable person," Michelle Blanco said.
More than 70 tornadoes and thunderstorms during the weekend and into Monday killed at least 35 persons in five states. Sixteen deaths were reported in Tennessee, 12 in Alabama, five in Ohio and one each in Mississippi and Pennsylvania. More than 200 people were injured.
In one Mississippi county, 87 homes were destroyed, officials said yesterday. Crews in Lowndes County still were estimating the damage to businesses, said emergency management chief Larry Miller. Across the state, damage will be in the millions of dollars, Gov. Ronnie Musgrove said.
In 17 Ohio counties, the American Red Cross estimated that 109 homes, businesses and other buildings were destroyed.
Utility crews struggled to restore electricity and power, and Morgan County schools were closed yesterday.
Elementary and junior high classes also were canceled in Carbon Hill, Ala., where most of Alabama's deaths occurred, and Walker County school Superintendent Alan Trotter said he doubted the school could be repaired.
"It's like a car in a head-on collision," Mr. Trotter said of the school building. "The taillights might not be damaged, but the car is useless."

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