Deadly Twisters 'Worst Disaster Since Katrina'

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The string of tornados and sever storms that have ripped through the South this month are being called the worst natural disaster in the United States since Hurricane Katrina.

Experts now say the tornados that slammed the region were in some places a category EF-5 with winds of 200 mph or more.

President Barack Obama visited Alabama Friday. The state was hardest hit with more than 200 of the 318 deaths in the region.

"We just took a tour and just got to say I've never seen devastation like this. It is heartbreaking," he said.

Obama met with families affected by the storms, telling them the federal government is going to make sure they're not forgotten.

He declared Alabama a major disaster and promised federal help for Alabama and other states to help them recover.

"People's lives have just been turned upside down," Gov. Robert Bentley.

Tornados blew over 14 states. At least 180 twisters shattered records and nearly everything else in their path.

Leaders in Tuscaloosa and other towns say some neighborhoods have been wiped off the map. People are picking up what's left of their lives and neighbors are banning together to clear impassable roads.

"All this doesn't compare, doesn't compare to life," storm victim James Dixon said. "Because life is so precious, and we have another chance."

"I actually thought we were going to die," he continued. "That's what was going through my head."

Alabama Power has been restored power to almost 200,000 homes.

In Cullman, Ala., half of the courthouse roof was blown off. Part of the local First Baptist Church was also hit.

Help is arriving. CBN's Operation Blessing is helping clear debris and providing relief supplies and basic necessities.

Forecasters say this could be one of the worst years for severe weather and tornados in U.S. history.

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Mark Martin is a reporter and anchor at CBN News, covering various issues from military matters to alternative fuels. Mark has reported internationally in the Middle East and traveled to Bahrain to cover stories on the U.S.S. Dwight D. Eisenhower. Follow Mark on Twitter @MarkMartinCBN and "like" him at Facebook.com/MarkMartinCBN.