Editor's note: This post is part of the¬†Overheard on CNN.com¬†series, a regular feature¬†that examines interesting comments and thought-provoking conversations posted by the community.
A powerful, deadly, tornado-producing storm system descended on the Midwest this week. Many of our readers have been through a storm or two, and they felt compelled to share stories and advice.¬†Angela Davis shared the photo above showing a damaged flag in Harrisburg, Illinois.
If you've captured photos or video of the storms, you can¬†share your story on CNN iReport, but please remember to stay safe.¬†Or, share your experiences in the comments area below. Here's what some readers are telling us.
This commenter talked about helping storm victims and suggested making donations; there are other ways you can help as well.
Shay:¬†"Our prayers go up for those in the path of this latest storm. Our pastors from Joplin arrived in Harrisburg this morning with a truckload of relief kits put together last night by our youth to give to residents of this devastated¬†area. We know the pain and grief and fright you are going through. I lost a student in the May 22 tornado, one of the 161. We are former Joplin residents now living outside the city limits. My daughter works in the remaining hospital here. We live with the ruin in our town. With storm warnings the other night, residents of Joplin were reliving the terror. God bless Harrisburg, Branson, Pittsburg, Cassville; and God bless Joplin. Donate to Convoy of Hope. The Red Cross is good but more of your money donated to COH¬†goes to relief. In fact, they say $1 donated = $7 from gifts in kind. They were on the road to Joplin within one hour May 22. http://www.convoyofhope.org/"
Some shared their own previous experiences.
EvolveNow:¬†"I've lived through not one, but two tornadic events. The first tore the side of the apartment building I lived in off (thankfully just after we had moved and it stood empty) and the second nearly wiped the next town off the map. Winds of over 150 mph rammed straw, solid-core wire and two-by-fours through seemingly solid objects, lifted whole buildings 10-plus feet into the air before crashing them and their occupants to the ground, and barrel-rolled cars down the road as if they were just toys. In both cases, several people died. The culprit was not God, or the winds, but flying debris and the sudden stop it makes when impacting a soft human body. A longer warning time would have allowed the people who died to get to their basements and get under or inside a small cement or steel structure already built there."
Other people talked about their ideas for improving storm safety. FULL POST
T.J. Lane was charged Thursday afternoon on six counts related to Monday's shooting at Ohio's Chardon High School - three counts of aggravated murder, two counts of attempted aggravated murder and one count of felonious assault, according to court documents. The charges were filed in juvenile court.
Lane, a 17-year-old sophomore, has confessed to taking a .22-caliber gun and a knife to the school and firing 10 rounds as scared students and teachers ran for cover, according to the prosecutor.
- CNN's Laura Dolan contributed to this report.FULL STORY
Editor's note: This post is part of the¬†Overheard on CNN.com¬†series, a regular feature¬†that examines interesting comments and thought-provoking conversations posted by the community.
"RIP. When anyone dies at such a young age leaving behind a wife and four children, the decent thing to do is show some respect, and say a prayer for his family, regardless of whether you are a 'right-wing nut job' or a 'radical looney leftist.' "
One could be fairly safe in saying that Andrew Breitbart, 43, was a polarizing figure for our readers. The conservative blogger was first to post a very personal photo of Anthony Weiner, and had gotten involved in a number of past controversies. And yet, he also might have brought people a little closer together.
Skim the comments and you can find a fiery debate, but you'll also see plenty of readers who pondered broader questions. How do you talk about someone after they die, and does it matter if you agree? This was the most-liked post:
Xgirl360: "I'm an unapologetic liberal. I couldn't stand this man. That being said, wow, 43 is way to young for anyone to die. I feel for his family and hope they will find comfort in their friends and loved ones. Those of you delighting in his death should be ashamed of yourselves."
This person, on the other hand, expressed their condolences from a different point of view.
Gregory Smith: "He was a true American and he loved this country and wanted everyone to be treated equally. He will be missed, he tryed to point out the inequities of the liberal press and the Democratic Party. By most of these comments here will prove how hateful people can be. Long live conservatism."
Some readers said tough talk is almost inevitable, whichever side you are on. And yet they also talked about how to disagree. FULL POST
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.
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.
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."
A group of American and British non-governmental organization workers accused of fomenting unrest in Egypt will be leaving the country "shortly," an Interior Ministry spokesman said Thursday.
The accused were detained as part of a crackdown on pro-democracy, non-government groups, which Egyptian officials say is part of a pattern of foreign interference stoking unrest.
The list of charges includes the unapproved conducting of political training and opinion polls - and sending reports to the United States.
The workers are charged with operating in Egypt without being officially registered and receiving foreign funding.
One of two teenage students who were stabbed Thursday morning at a Chicago public school has died, city police say.
The two students were stabbed in Goldsmith Public School, just past the front door, at 7:30 a.m. CT, Chicago police spokesman Mike Sullivan said.
A 17-year-old suspect is in police custody, Sullivan said.FULL STORY
The following is a sampling of Thursday morning's headlines from some of CNN's affiliates nationwide:
A misunderstanding due to a smartphone's auto-correct feature prompted authorities to put two Georgia schools on lockdown, CNN affiliate WSB reports.
The lockdown happened after someone reported receiving an anonymous text message saying, "gunman be at west hall today," apparently referring to a Hall County school, according to the Hall County Sheriff's Office. But the sender says that wasn't the intended message at all.
Relatives of September 11 victims say a billboard touting the hit TV series "Mad Men"¬†in New York City is insensitive, CNN affiliate WPIX reports. The billboard, placed on a rooftop in front of taller buildings, appears to show a man falling, perhaps as if he fell from a window above, WPIX reports.
A Virginia resident's joke is getting a lot more mileage than he expected.¬† When he put his cat up for state office, he got a few votes. Now the feline, Hank, is running for U.S. Senate, and his mocking-the-status-quo ways have earned him a respectable online following, CNN affiliate WJLA reports.
When a 3-year-old Massachusetts boy saw his grandmother shaking, he took steps to get her some help - and now he's being handsomely rewarded by the town's police chief, CNN affiliate WHDH reports.
Andrew Breitbart, a well-known conservative blogger, has died, his attorney confirmed Thursday. He was 43.
Breitbart was also known as a pundit on conservative television shows and¬†got his start helping to run the original right-wing online media behemoth, the Drudge Report, then started his own website.
Breitbart was the first to post the infamous Twitter photos of U.S. Rep Anthony Weiner last year, in which the congressman appeared barechested and in his underpants. Weiner eventually stepped down amid the scandal.
An In Memoriam post on his website breitbart.tv said that it was with a "terrible feeling of pain and loss" that they announces his death.
"Andrew passed away unexpectedly from natural causes shortly after midnight this morning in Los Angeles," the post said. "We have lost a husband, a father, a son, a brother, a dear friend, a patriot and a happy warrior.¬†Andrew lived boldly, so that we more timid souls would dare to live freely and fully, and fight for the fragile liberty he showed us how to love."
According to the post, in a new conclusion to one of his books, he wrote about how much he loved his job and fighting for what he believed in.
Andrew recently wrote a new conclusion to his book, Righteous Indignation:
"Andrew is at rest, yet the happy warrior lives on, in each of us," the post stated.
Markets are telling. The best indicators of a region‚Äôs demands are the items it keeps in plentiful supply.
In New Orleans, residents demand ways to honor their slain loved ones. With a murder rate that has been tops in the nation for years, perhaps it‚Äôs no surprise that a number of custom T-shirt companies specialize in wearable memorials.
The city‚Äôs Times-Picayune newspaper wrote in 2004 that RIP tees were becoming as common as flowers at funerals, but filmmaker John Richie found more recently that, for many T-shirt shops, the shirts are a mainstay of their revenue.
Lawrence Elzy, owner of Exclusive Tees in the 7th Ward, told Richie during a documentary shoot that there are roughly 20 shops like his in a 3-square-mile area.
‚ÄúIf I‚Äôm too busy, my customer will go to another shop, and if they‚Äôre too busy, their customer will come here. There‚Äôs not a shortage,‚ÄĚ he said.
When Elzy first opened, he wanted to focus on birthdays, family reunions, ‚Äúthings more of the living,‚ÄĚ but he quickly realized it wasn‚Äôt a sound business plan.
‚ÄúYou can survive without doing Rest In Peace shirts, but your business will never grow - because of New Orleans.‚ÄĚ
The race to the Republican presidential nomination continues March 6 with Super Tuesday.¬† CNN.com Live is your home for all the latest news and views from the campaign trail.
Today's programming highlights...
8:00 am ET - Santorum rally - GOP presidential candidate Rick Santorum rallies supporters in Dalton, Georgia.¬† He'll then speak at Atlantic Aviation in Atlanta at 11:00 am ET before heading to Washington state for a pair of events.
The U.N. Human Rights Council adopted a resolution Thursday condemning Syria's "widespread and systematic violations of human rights" and called on the regime to permit aid groups in to distribute relief.
The resolution comes as Conflicting reports emerged Thursday over the fate of the center of Syrian resistance in the besieged city of Homs amid what the opposition describes as an ongoing assault by President Bashar al-Assad's forces.
Spotty reports of intense fighting emerged in and around the hard-hit Baba Amr neighborhood, though it remained unclear whether Syrian forces had taken a portion of the area. The city has become a flashpoint for both sides in the uprising.
Al-Assad's government said late Wednesday that troops had taken over, while opposition groups gave conflicting reports Thursday about who was in control of the neighborhood that has been shelled for 26 days.
Two opposition activists on the ground in Homs said the army did not take Baba Amr, while another activist reports troops took control of a portion of the neighborhood, according to Avaaz, a pro-opposition, political activist group.
Authorities have until Thursday to file charges against T.J. Lane, the teen accused of killing three students and wounding two others in a shooting at an Ohio high school.
A judge ordered prosecutors to file charges by Thursday. Geauga County Prosecutor David Joyce has said Lane will face three counts of aggravated murder, along with other charges related to the Monday morning shooting at Chardon High School.
Joyce has also said that Lane would most likely be tried as an adult.
Lane, a 17-year-old sophomore, has confessed to taking a .22-caliber gun and a knife to the school and firing 10 rounds as scared students and teachers ran for cover, according to Joyce.FULL STORY
Weary residents may get some good news Thursday as the monster storm system that already battered many Midwestern states and caused a dozen deaths is expected to weaken.
The National Weather Service's Storm Prediction Center downgraded its outlook for severe weather from moderate to slight over the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic. It said there was only a 5% probability of tornadoes through Thursday morning.
The death toll from the enormous storm system that plowed through the Midwest and spawned more tornadoes as it moved east was at 12 late Wednesday, authorities said.
Hardest hit was Harrisburg, Illinois, a town that was thrashed by a pre-dawn EF4 killer tornado that packed 170 mph winds. Six people were killed in the southern Illinois city, many were injured or left with harrowing stories like Justin Hicks.FULL STORY
A disabled Italian cruise ship, the Costa Allegra, reached port in the Seychelles Thursday.
The Allegra lost power in the Indian Ocean Monday due to a fire in the engine room. It had 636 passengers on board and a crew of 413, according to Costa Cruises. Most of the passengers are from Europe, but eight are from the United States and 13 are from Canada.
Safe on land, passenger Mari-Anne Thon described her alarm when the fire broke out.
"It was extremely black smoke so we knew what was going to happen," she said, briefly choking up before continuing: "So they sounded the alarm and we went out to our room to get our life jackets and then we went up to the muster station. We all were standing there quite a while."
The ship departed from Diego Suarez, Madagascar, on Saturday and was originally scheduled to arrive in the Seychelles Tuesday.FULL STORY
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:
We headed into the disaster area, driving northeast from St. Louis, where you could feel the pockets of hot and cold air buffeting each other. Early reports were that six people died in Harrisburg, Illinois, so that's where we were headed.
The storm hit Harrisburg, with winds as high as 170 miles per hour, cutting a swath through the city.¬† The mayor described the path as "three or four football fields wide."
The greatest damage was in southern Harrisburg, in the southern part of the state.¬† About 200 to 300 homes are estimated to be damaged or destroyed, and the Harrisburg Medical Center was also hit. The tornado tore through a wall and left several patients' room open to the elements. FULL POST