LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Fifteen-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 when the twister scooped her up and deposited her in a field, Angel was opening her eyes. Hospital workers said that was a hopeful sign.
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 stopped moving, and there was no sign of brain activity. She was removed from life support Sunday afternoon.
“I had my arm around her when she took her last breath,” her grandmother, Kathy Babcock, told ABC News. “I sang to her ‘Itsy-bitsy spider.’”
Angel’s death 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.
Early Monday, a blanket of wet snow covered Henryville and other parts of tornado-stricken Clark County. State homeland security spokeswoman Emily Norcross said the 2 to 4 inches of snow could slow cleanup efforts because it concealed potential hazards.
“It’s slippery and it’s hampering visibility on roads, so it’s more difficult to see small debris like nails,” Norcross said. “It’s complicating things.”
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 tornado victims 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 invited the Babcock family into his home as the storm was bearing down. As it hit, they took shelter in the hallway, grabbed hands and began to pray.
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.
A memorial service for the Babcock family was scheduled for Monday afternoon at a church in Salem, Ind.
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.”
A story of hope emerged from North Carolina, where three children survived after being torn from their beds by a tornado early Saturday. The twister sucked Jamal Stevens, 7, from his room and threw him about 100 feet from his Charlotte area home to land alongside an interstate. His 3- and 4-year old sisters were found in nearby yards. All three were released from a hospital Sunday.
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 emerged. 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 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 roof to worship and catch up on news of the tornado.
Even with life upended in so many ways, one family got a reminder that the deadly tornado hadn’t changed 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 in Marysville, Ind., and Rick Callahan in Indianapolis contributed to this report.
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