Gotta Watch: Dangerous jobs
Calling all alligator hunters - the state of Texas needs you!
May 2nd, 2012
08:41 PM ET

Gotta Watch: Dangerous jobs

There are some men and women who don't fear danger or even risking their lives at work. For some, the adrenaline rush of pushing themselves to the edge keeps their jobs interesting and rewarding.  CNN.com has collected video of some of these risk-takers putting their lives on the line. Watch as an alligator hunter, firefighter and window washer are caught in precarious positions that will put a chill up your spine.

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Need a job? Texas needs gator hunters

Texas officials say the state needs more alligator hunters to provide his or her services.

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Fireman: Roof under him 'just dropped'

A life and death moment for Michigan fighters caught on tape, as a roof collapsed under them. WXYZ reports.

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Window washer saved from fall

A Seattle man is safe on the ground after hanging from a building. KOMO reports.

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Filed under: Alligators • Animals • Fire • Gotta Watch • Michigan • Survivor Stories • Texas • U.S. • Washington state
March 6th, 2012
02:07 PM ET

Indiana mom loses legs saving kids from tornado

[Updated Wednesday, March 7] After we reported on the story of Stephanie Decker, an Indiana mother who shielded her two children from tornadoes and lost her two legs after being pinned by her collapsing house, CNN received an outpouring of support from readers and viewers asking how they could help.

Some wanted to know if they could help pay for her medical bills, others wanted to wish her well, and others hoped to help her and her children because of Decker's act of bravery.

The family has set up The Stephanie Decker Fund and all donations will be sent directly to them.

Donations can be sent to the following address:

Fifth Third Bank

392 S. Indiana Avenue

Sellersburg, IN 47172

Make payable to: The Stephanie Decker Fund

Any questions can be directed to the Sellersburg location at (812) 246-0982 or the Fifth Third Bank Marketing offices at (502) 562-5355.]

You can also lend your help to all of the victims of the recent tornado outbreak by visiting CNN's Impact Your World page, which has various resources and ways to help.

[Posted Tuesday, March 6] A woman in Indiana lost part of both of her legs as she shielded her children from two tornadoes that slammed into their home.

Stephanie Decker was at home Friday when her husband texted her that a tornado was hurtling directly toward their three-story home in Henryville, Indiana.

Just minutes before the tornado swept through, Decker and her young son and daughter huddled in the basement. She covered them with a blanket to try to shield them from debris.

"I was reaching around, holding them and trying to keep everything away from them so it wouldn't hit 'em," Stephanie Decker told CNN affiliate WLKY.

The wreckage broke seven of her ribs and almost completely severed both of her legs.

"I had two steel beams on my legs, and I couldn't move. I was stuck," she told WLKY.

Then, another storm came roaring through. She again covered her children the best she could, taking the brunt of the debris as her home collapsed around her.

Joe Decker said his wife relayed some of the horror on an iPad, because when he first saw her, she was on a ventilator and unable to speak, according to the Louisville Courier-Journal.

As the storm rolled through, Stephanie Decker told her husband, she turned and saw a large piece of debris begin to collapse. She pulled her daughter away just before it came crumbling down, according to the newspaper.

"She just kind of grabbed her and turned," Joe Decker told the Courier Journal. "She doesn't remember anything after that."

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Outbreak of deadly tornadoes tear through U.S.
A car lies overturned in the parking lot of the Henryville school after a tornado ripped through Henryville, Indiana.
March 2nd, 2012
08:36 PM ET

Outbreak of deadly tornadoes tear through U.S.

A powerful storm system rolled across the U.S. Friday causing at slew of tornadoes from Alabama to Indiana. The deadly tornadoes left a devastating path of destruction behind. This is something you'll have to see to believe.

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‘Take it away from us’

A woman near West Liberty, Kentucky can be heard praying on camera as a huge funnel cloud forms over her house.

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'This was time to take shelter'

A WDRB reporter and photographer got caught in the storm as they headed out to cover the severe weather in Indiana.

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‘It’s heartbreaking’

Indiana was among the hardest-hit states.

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Well built homes 'wiped' to the ground

Video captures the heartbreak as tornado survivors try and pick up the pieces from what's left of their homes.

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Filed under: Indiana • Kentucky • Survivor Stories • Tennessee • Tornadoes • U.S. • Weather
March 1st, 2012
12:12 PM ET

Part of Illinois development like 'a slate wiped clean' after tornado

Editor's note: CNN's Soledad O'Brien and Rose Marie Arce traveled to Harrisburg, Illinois, Wednesday night to survey damage from the devastating EF4 tornado that killed six people there. Soledad O'Brien is live covering the devastation for CNN"s morning show Starting Point.  Here is what they saw:

Brady Street is a quaint development in Harrisburg, Illinois. A short street, full of pretty, cream-colored duplex homes. Built identically, many were just finished in November. But as the sun rises, the day after Harrisburg's deadly tornado what's clear are the scars, and the death and destruction in its wake.

The newest section of the development is like a slate wiped clean. All that remains of those home are their foundations.

This is a spot where several people died. The wind pushed all the debris, and the homes, across the street and into the neighboring houses.

It's a staggering example of the strength of a tornado, and its randomness.

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March 1st, 2012
12:11 PM ET

Storm survivors recount horror: 'Half the roof was coming off the house'

Editor's note: The death toll from the enormous storm system that plowed through parts of the Midwest and South stands at 13, authorities said Thursday. Hardest hit was Harrisburg, Illinois, a town thrashed by a pre-dawn EF4 killer tornado that packed 180-mph winds. Six people were killed in the southern Illinois city. Below are some of the harrowing and unbelievable stories from storm survivors:

Son: 'I saw nothing literally. Her house is literally gone'

When the tornado ripped through Harrisburg, Darrell Osman ran toward his mother's house.

"There were red and blue lights everywhere," he said. "Other than that there was nobody else here."

He wanted to check in on his elderly mother. But when he got there, he said he was shocked by what he saw or didn't see.

"I saw nothing literally. Her house is literally gone, nothing there but the car that was sitting in the garage."

Luckily, he came upon a police officer while he was looking at the destruction.  The officer told him his mother was in a nearby ambulance, and Osman was able to speak to her for a few minutes, but it would be the last time he would talk to his mother. His wife, Carolyn, a nurse, rode in the ambulance with her mother-in-law to a hospital badly damaged in the storm.

"She had a laceration on her head and she was in quite a bit of pain," Carolyn Osman said. "Every time the ambulance bounced, she cried out in pain."

At the hospital, Darrell Osman learned his mother might not make it. He called his sister, who rushed to drive over from Indiana. But Mary Osman did not survive, becoming one of six people from this town to die from the storm.

Later, Darrell's sister, Dena McDonald, said the destruction overwhelmed her as she made her way through Harrisburg.

"There really aren't any words to describe when I drove through town and saw this," McDonald said. "I thought, how terrifying. I knew by that time that more people than just my mom had perished. And so I wasn't just heartbroken for my mom, I was praying for everyone who had lost a loved one."

Darrell Osman grew emotional as he stood amid the rubble that remained of his mother's house.

"The only thing getting me through this is knowing she's in heaven," he said as tears rolled down his face.

Part of Illinois development like 'a slate wiped clean' after tornado

Photos:  Tornadoes take deadly toll

Survivor: 'We had about two minutes to get in the bathtub'

Pat Anslinger heard the warning sirens just after 4 a.m. and rushed into action. Her first concern was protecting her mother, Thelma Wiley. The twister hit her house in Harrisburg two minutes later.

"I heard the sirens and could hear a locomotive sound coming straight at us, and I went ahead and put her in the bathtub and made her squat down, and I laid on top of her and we held on to each other in that tub," Anslinger said.

Anslinger pulled towels over her and her mother, she explained from her mother's home, which was wrecked by the tornado. Windows were shattered, and her mother's belongings were strewn through the house and frontyard.

"I had to hold onto her. I could feel all the forces pulling on my body, trying to take us out of here," Anslinger said.

Survivor: 'I noticed the walls separating from the house'

Justin Hicks and his family had little time to escape when the storm came barreling toward his Harrisburg home early Wednesday.

"When we woke up, half the roof was coming off the house," Hicks said. "We managed to get the small children in the closet, and about the time the small children were in the closet, my wife and I noticed the walls separating from the house."

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Stories from the rubble: A CNN producer's impressions
CNN producer Matthew Hoye stands amid the rubble in Joplin, Missouri.
May 31st, 2011
02:20 PM ET

Stories from the rubble: A CNN producer's impressions

Editor's note: CNN producer Matthew Hoye shares his personal thoughts on covering the devastating tornadoes in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, and Joplin, Missouri.

In the past month, I've covered two of the worst tornadoes to hit the U.S. in decades.

The devastation and heartbreak in Tuscaloosa and Joplin are truly indescribable. I met so many people who, I think, could not process what had happened. I watched them climb through rubble in the unrecognizable landscape, searching for something familiar among shredded clothing, soaked and mildewy photos and smashed electronics. What looked like garbage to me was a keepsake to them. A torn family picture, a hand-me-down table or a random cell phone with pictures of the neighborhood were scattered among the miles and miles of twisted metal. There were brief smiles as mementos of the life that had been there just yesterday were found.

Jim Richards found his wife's immigration green card a couple of houses away from his previous home and, amazingly, his iPad buried under an overturned Jeep. He laughed as he told me the iPad cover was destroyed, but the iPad, with all his family photos, e-mails and contacts, worked just fine.

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Filed under: Alabama • Joplin • Missouri • Survivor Stories • Tornadoes • Weather
Gotta Watch: Tornado survival stories
Jamie Bell stands with his mother Marie Rich in what used to be his 2nd floor apartment after it was destroyed when a massive tornado passed through the town killing at least 116 people on May 24, 2011 in Joplin, Missouri.
May 26th, 2011
09:09 AM ET

Gotta Watch: Tornado survival stories

It's been a harrowing week in the Midwest. Tornadoes ravaged towns across the region, killing hundreds. But in the storms' wakes are true, fierce survival tales. You’ve gotta watch how survivors made it through the worst tornado in history.
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Filed under: Gotta Watch • Survivor Stories • Tornadoes • Weather
Survivor: Tornadoes always 'came and went' but never left destruction like this
Part of a mangled car door sits atop a tree near the spot where Charles Richardson's home once stood.
May 25th, 2011
01:01 PM ET

Survivor: Tornadoes always 'came and went' but never left destruction like this

Editor's Note: CNN's Ashley Fantz, who grew up in Missouri, is on the ground in Joplin talking with residents who survived the tornado.

As a little girl growing up in Missouri my parents rushed me into our basement several times when the tornado sirens went off. They always did a good job of making it seem fun, like we were going to play down there. Each time we emerged, luckily there was no damage. I don't recall anything terrible happening.

So as I got older and the sirens sounded, I usually went outside to watch the night sky light up. Dark clouds always pass, I figured. I rarely thought about getting hurt. Like a lot of people who grow up here, I figured the odds were on my side.

I heard the same refrain from folks in tornado-ravaged Joplin, Missouri.

It was just going to be a big awful storm and it would pass. Everything would be fine - that's what survivors told me over and over as they stood on the splinters of their homes.

Trees on one block were decapitated. A car door hung 30 feet in the air from one of the huge old sycamores that had refused to give up its thickest limb.

An older man, looking dazed, stood on a swath of insulation. Charles Richardson - with red suspenders neatly holding his Carhartt jeans in place - wore a backpack oxygen tank, the tubes running into his nose. His beige work shirt was covered with dry patches of blood. As I got a few feet from him, I saw he was crying. I stopped.

"Come on now, come on," he said.

Interview me if you need to, his tone said, just ask your questions and leave me alone because this is hard enough.

He blew his nose with a pink handkerchief and told me he had lived in Joplin his whole life.

"I've seen tornadoes come and go," he said. "This one came when I happened to be in my garage. It came so fast and I went and ran from my house but it was there and it was on me."

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Filed under: Joplin • Missouri • On the Ground • Survivor Stories • Tornadoes
Joplin tornado survivor glad he heeded the sirens for once
Debris is strewn across Joplin, Missouri, on Tuesday, two days after a tornado there killed at least 124 people.
May 24th, 2011
10:49 PM ET

Joplin tornado survivor glad he heeded the sirens for once

A tornado on Sunday killed at least 125 people in Joplin, Missouri, authorities said Tuesday. Here are stories of some of those who survived the storm:

Rick Morgan: I usually ignore the sirens

Rick Morgan says he came close to doing Sunday what he normally does when he hears tornado sirens in Joplin: ignore them. Had he done so this time, he says, he probably would have died.

He was in a store, intending to buy some milk, when the sirens started Sunday.

"The store manager says, 'Everyone who is in the store, you need to go back to the produce cooler, because the sirens are going off,'" Morgan recalled Tuesday for CNN. "Well instead, following my M.O., instead of going to the produce cooler, I think, 'Well, I'll just drive home.' "

As Morgan approached the door, the store owner protested. And then four people on the outside "ran screaming into the store," Morgan said.

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Stories from the storm: Fear, tears, prayers silenced by tornado destruction
"Everything was unrecognizable. Completely unrecognizable," one Joplin, Missouri, resident said.
May 23rd, 2011
02:42 PM ET

Stories from the storm: Fear, tears, prayers silenced by tornado destruction

[Updated at 3:27 p.m. ET Tuesday] At least 118 people died from a tornado that tore through Joplin, Missouri, on Sunday, Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon said.

Here's what some of the survivors experienced:

Jeremy Cooper - 'We are so, so lucky'

The tornado hit a short distance from the house that Jeremy Cooper of Joplin, Missouri, shares with his family. "It started on 10th Street and I live on 7th Street," he said.

Cooper said sirens alerted him to what was in store - but not really.

"I could hear the tornado," he said. "When the first siren went off, 'cause it went off twice, you could hear in the air, the wind like a train."

"We just covered up in the basement real quick," he said.

The churning winds quickly died down, only to be replaced by another sound, Cooper said.

"I came back up, the weather had stopped being so crazy around our house. The police sirens just started going crazy, all the power was out in town."

Theresa Campbell - Tulsa resident was visiting friends in Joplin

Tulsa, Oklahoma, resident Theresa Campbell was visiting friends in Joplin when the twister tore through the area.

She took photos of the destruction around Joplin High School, which "was demolished," she said.

"The photos, while quite graphic, do not show the devastation that this town is feeling," Campbell said.

"Many families displaced. Many businesses and lives lost. It's truly heart wrenching."

Tussiona Mikell - Split-second, ceiling collapse and prayer saved me

Tussiona Mikell was at the cashier's register inside a Dollar Tree in Joplin, Missouri, when a friend called her to tell her a storm was approaching.

Mikell and five others waited out the storm in the cooler.

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Tornado survivor: Split-second decision saved my life
Tussiona Mikell debated taking shelter at this Walmart -- but instead chose to stay hunkered down at the Dollar Tree.
May 23rd, 2011
02:36 PM ET

Tornado survivor: Split-second decision saved my life

Tussiona Mikell was at the cashier's register inside a Dollar Tree in Joplin, Missouri, when a friend called her to tell her a storm was approaching. Mikell lives 12 miles from Joplin, in Neosho, Missouri, and was in town just to get a few items.

Then, the sirens started blaring.

The alerts were saying a tornado was headed straight down the street. Mikell took a split-second to make a decision. At first, she was going to head to the Walmart nearby, but she was afraid she might get caught trying to make it.

The Dollar Tree cashier said "Well, we have a freezer here, we normally go into the cooler when something like this happens," Mikell told CNN. "They were telling everyone, 'Get to the back, get to the back.' We rushed into the coolers and we could just hear everything on the outside, but we couldn't see what was happening."

Mikell and five others waited out the storm in the cooler.

"We could just hear things caving in but we couldn't see what was going on," she told CNN. "There was a lot of calling on Jesus. People were crying, saying different things. I was calling out 'Jesus, Jesus, Jesus.' "

Finally, after about 45 minutes, the group tried to make their way out of cooler. But it wouldn't budge.

"The ceiling fell down and blocked the freezer," Mikell recalled. "Everyone was trying to push to get (the door) cracked open. But we couldn't get it wide enough to get us out."

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May 23rd, 2011
09:00 AM ET

'Surreal moment' in Joplin store freezer: Storm drowns out shrieks, prayers

Isaac Duncan was nearby in Carl Junction, Missouri, when he heard reports that the tornado was literally around the block. So he and a friend ran into the closest place they could find – a convenience store.

"When we went in the electricity was already out there and were about 20 people huddled down," Duncan told CNN. "Everyone was just deciding what to do."

Video shot inside the fridge shows little – it is dark and hard to see – but the screams and shrieking pleas for "Jesus, Jesus," "heavenly father," and "help" can be heard.

"Get away from the window," one man shouts as you can hear a girl crying, saying, "I'm scared."

Then someone takes charge telling all of the people to "get down, low on the ground."

You can hear the wind whipping against the structure followed by the massive shattering of glass and loud noise of destruction. The group frantically rushes into the freezer screaming.

"Dad?" you can hear someone screaming. The sound of wind and destruction drowns out their voices.

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