Homeland Security Secretary visited destruction in Tennessee

Thursday, February 7th 2008, 7:29 pm
By: News 9


Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff paid a visit to Tennessee on Thursday.

Tennessee is just one of five states recovering from the deadly tornadoes Tuesday night.

When Dana Reno went to check his friend's home, he thought he was lost.

"I stopped and looked around and recognized the concrete fillers and said I'm at their house and it is not here anymore," Reno said.

Similar scenes were being played out in dozens of towns across the South as thousands of tornado victims come to grips with at least 55 deaths and massive property loses.

The cleanup will take days or weeks. Officials are starting to tally damage estimates to pave the way for state and federal disaster relief.

While the money hasn't arrived just yet, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff toured hard-hit Tennessee Thursday and promised the federal government would answer the call.

"FEMA will do a more detailed assessment of exactly what the losses are, then we can figure out what kind of assistance we can give individuals in terms of rebuilding."

Union University, in Jackson, Tenn., looks like a disaster area, but officials said classes will resume next week. A few dozen students were hospitalized after a twister ripped through the campus Tuesday.

"I just knew people were dead, but no one was and that was just God's protection," Union student said.

Many others have also been giving thanks since the twisters carved up parts of five states. They are mourning the lives lost while celebrating those that remained; like that of a baby boy found buried in the rubble. The baby is back home with his family now.