NC faces massive cleanup as death toll rises to 22

BONNETSVILLE, N.C. (AP) — Shards of glass from old bottles and furniture smashed by a tornado that tore through town littered the concrete floor of Rhonda Carter’s antique store, shattering her plans to open an auction house in nearby Salemburg. A storage area in the back was flattened.

From remote rural communities to the state’s second-largest city, thousands of residents hit by the most active tornado outbreak recorded in North Carolina’s history were clearing away rubble and debris, repairing power lines and facing a recovery that will cost tens of millions of dollars.

The storms that chugged across the South last week killed at least 45 people in six states, but the worst devastation came over about four hours Saturday in North Carolina. Officials were still tallying the toll, with police in Raleigh announcing that a 6-month-old child who had been in the hospital ended up dying from her injuries.

Saturday’s outbreak spread across more than half the state, from near Winston-Salem to the Outer Banks.

Governor Beverly Perdue and other officials toured the damage Monday, pledging prompt support to rebuild. Charities, religious groups and emergency shelters sprang into action, offering their services to residents well-versed in disasters like hurricanes, who suddenly found themselves in the path of a very different type of storm.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press.  All rights reserved.)