Devastating photos of tornado damage

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Lori Mehmen / AP

This year alone, dozens of tornados have ripped through swaths of the United States, largely in the southeast. Every year, these twisters devastate homes and businesses, and, of course, take lives.

Here’s a closeup look at what a tornado looks like, and what it can do, through a series of photos collected in recent years.

Homeless in New Jersey

US-WEATHER-HURRICANE
BRANDEN EASTWOOD/AFP via Getty Images

A woman takes a picture of a home damaged by a tornado in Mullica Hill, New Jersey on September 2, 2021 after record-breaking rainfall brought by the remnants of Storm Ida.

The remnants of Hurricane Ida triggered spectacular flash flooding and a rare state of emergency in New York City.

Damage in D.C.

Possible Tornado Leaves Behind Damage in Washington DC
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Fallen trees and toppled port-a-potties sit near the National Mall following a severe thunderstorm the night before, on July 2, 2021 in Washington, DC. 

Investigators from the The National Weather Service considered it to be a possible tornado.

Fultondale, Alabama

Tornado Rips Through Fultondale, Alabama Damaging Structures
Wes Frazer / Getty Images

A restaurant sign lies on the ground after sustaining damage from a tornado on January 26, 2021 in Fultondale, Alabama. 

A tornado ripped through Fultondale, damaging property and leaving one person dead and more than a dozen injured.

Tornado anniversary

Tornado Anniversary
David Goldman/AP

On March 3, 2021, an east Alabama community marked the second anniversary of a tornado that killed 23 people.

In this March 4, 2019, file photo, Carol Dean, right, cries and embraces Megan Anderson and her 18-month-old daughter, Madilyn, as Dean sifts through the debris of the home she shared with her husband, David Wayne Dean, who died when a tornado destroyed the house in Beauregard, Ala. 

More than two dozen injured

Tornado Touches Down In New Orleans East
Sean Gardner / Getty Images

A woman holds three dogs by a makeshift leash among the debris left behind by a tornado on February 7, 2017 in New Orleans, Louisiana.

According to the weather service, 25 people were injured in the aftermath of that twister.

February 2021 storm

Tornado North Carolina
Chris Seward / AP

Homeowners Joe Arancio, center, and his wife Kathy Arancio, right, describe damage to their home, in Brunswick County, North Carolina.

This photo was taken Wednesday, February 17, 2021, after a tornado hit the area the previous Monday.

High death toll

Over 20 Dead After Tornadoes Roar Across Tennessee, Including Nashville
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Buildings damaged by a tornado are seen in the Germantown neighborhood following devastating storms on March 3, 2020 in Nashville, Tennessee. 

At least 22 people were reportedly killed after tornadoes ripped across Tennessee the night before, causing widespread damage.

Lucky dog

Multiple Tornadoes Touch Down In Dallas-Fort Worth Area
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David Lowe carries his daughter’s dog Phoebe after the dog was rescued from the rubble of a destroyed home on April 3, 2012 in Arlington, Texas. 

Multiple tornadoes touched down across the Dallas-Fort Worth area caused extensive damage.

Get out of Dodge

Tornadoes Touch Down Around Dodge City, Kansas Area
Brian Davidson / Getty Images

A tornado is seen south of Dodge City, Kansas moving north on May 24, 2016. 

About 30 tornadoes were reported that week, in five different states from Michigan to Texas. Damage to homes and property was also reported in Ford County, Kansas.

Still not recovered

Joplin Tornado After the Storm
Charlie Riedel / AP

In this photo taken Tuesday, May 8, 2012, a tattered flag shows a year’s worth of wear as it hangs from the remains of a destroyed home in Joplin, Mo. 

Reconstruction continued in the community a full year after an EF-5 tornado destroyed a large swath of the city and killed 161 people.

Damaged poles

Tornado Hits Nashville, Tennessee
Brett Carlsen / Getty Images

Damaged utility poles and lines hang above Underwood St. on March 3, 2020 in Nashville, Tennessee. 

A tornado passed through Nashville that morning, leaving a wake of damage in its path including two people killed in East Nashville.

Precarious position

Over 20 Dead After Tornadoes Roar Across Tennessee, Including Nashville
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The destroyed exterior of The Basement East is seen in the East Nashville neighborhood on March 3, 2020 in Nashville, Tennessee. 

At least 22 people were reported killed after tornadoes ripped across Tennessee early that morning, causing widespread damage.

Wreckage

22 Dead As Tornadoes Roar Across Tennessee, Including Nashville
Brett Carlsen / Getty Images

Here’s a view of wreckage left behind in a tornado’s path through a residential area on March 4, 2020 in Cookeville, Tennessee. 

A tornado passed through the Nashville area that morning, leaving Putnam County with at least 18 dead.

Mouth of a storm

Large Tornadoes Touch Down Around Kansas City As Extreme Midwest Weather Continues
Kyle Rivas / Getty Images

Rain obscures the view of a tornado on May 28, 2019 in Lawrence, Kansas. 

The Midwest saw extensive severe weather that spring, with widespread flooding and multiple tornadoes.

At a standstill

22 Dead As Tornadoes Roar Across Tennessee, Including Nashville
Brett Carlsen / Getty Images

A pickup truck stands destroyed by a tornado on March 4, 2020 in Cookeville, Tennessee. 

By late July 2021, Tennessee had suffered at least 33 tornadoes.

Steer clear

23 Killed As Tornadoes Sweep Across Southeast Causing Widespread Damage
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A cargo truck leans on another vehicle after the area was destroyed by a tornado touchdown March 6, 2019 in Beauregard, Alabama. 

Numerous tornadoes were reported in Eastern Alabama and Western Georgia three days earlier, killing at least 23 people.

Wild storm

23 Killed As Tornadoes Sweep Across Southeast Causing Widespread Damage
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This is an aerial view of damage caused by a tornado touchdown at the Buck Wild Saloon on March 5, 2019 in Smiths Station, Alabama. 

Numerous of tornado touchdowns were reported in Eastern Alabama and Western Georgia two days earlier, killing at least 23 people.

Survivors in Cuba

APTOPIX Cuba Tornado
Ramon Espinosa / AP

A girl with her puppy surveys the destruction left behind by a tornado in Havana, Cuba on January 28, 2019. 

A tornado and pounding rain smashed into the eastern part of Cuba’s capital the night before, toppling trees as the storm cut a path of destruction across eastern Havana.

Resting in the rubble

APTOPIX Cuba Tornado
Ramon Espinosa / AP

A man rests on the trunk of a tree that was toppled by a tornado, as he takes a moment to rest from removing rubble from his home in Regla, Cuba, on January 28, 2019.

A tornado and pounding rain smashed into the eastern part of Cuba’s capital overnight, flinging shards of metal roofing through the air.

Cuba Tornado

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Ramon Espinosa / AP

A car overturned by a tornado lies smashed on top of a street pole in Havana, Cuba, on January 28, 2019. 

The storm also bent power poles.

Precarious position

APTOPIX Indiana Tornado
Philip Scott Andrews / AP

A school bus is pushed through the front of a building after a tornado swept through Henryville, Indiana on March 2, 2012. 

The storm was part of a system that brought high winds and heavy rain to parts of Indiana, Kentucky and Tennessee.

“A leg”

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Stephen Lance Dennee / AP

From left, Alli Ferrell, 10, and cousin Christian Murray, 12, sit on a front porch, as Lindsey Murray, 15, of Harrisburg, Illinois, paints “for sale fixer upper” on the side of the home of their grandmother, Sharon Murray, 61, after a tornado destroyed the house in Harrisburg, Illinois on February 29, 2012. 

A tornado struck the small town in southern Illinois, killing six. Murray was not at home at the time of the storm. A prosthetic leg was found among the wreckage.

No home to return to

APTOPIX Tornado North Carolina
Chris Seward / AP

Damaged homes are shown at the Ocean Ridge Plantation in Brunswick County, North Carolina on February 17, 2021, after a tornado hit the area the night before.

As of late July 2021, tornadoes had killed a reported 13 people in the United States this year.

Rubble on Main Street

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Charlie Neibergall / AP

A resident runs past a tornado-damaged building on Main Street in Marshalltown, Iowa on July 19, 2018. 

Several buildings were damaged by a tornado in the main business district in town, including the historic courthouse.

Damage but no injuries?

Severe Weather Mississippi
Rogelio V. Solis / AP

Vickie Savell looks at the remains of her new mobile home early Monday, May 3, 2021 in Yazoo County, Mississippi.

Multiple tornadoes were reported across Mississippi the day before, causing some damage but no immediate word of injuries.

Deadly Easter season

At Least 30 Dead As Severe Storms Spawn Tornados In Southern U.S.
Sean Rayford / Getty Images

People look at a home destroyed by a tornado on April 13, 2020 near Nixville, South Carolina. 

A string of storms across the southern United States that began on Easter Sunday 2020 and continued into the week produced multiple tornados resulting in more than 30 deaths and dozens more injuries.

Bangladesh tornado

Bangladesh Tornado
A.M. Ahad / AP

A child injured in a tornado receives treatment at a hospital in Brahmanbaria district, Bangladesh, Saturday, March 23, 2013. 

The tornado ripped through 20 villages in eastern Bangladesh, killing almost two dozen people, with another 200 hurt.

Flooding

Central Illinois Hit With Severe Tornados
Jon Durr / Getty Images

Here’s a view of a flooded street and damaged homes on West Daisy Place after a tornado struck the previous day on June 23, 2015 in Coal City, Illinois.

The prime tornado season in Illinois is March through May.

Bad sign

Deadly Tornadoes Hit Northeast Alabama
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A utility truck passes a stop sign which was bent over by the high winds of a tornado on DeKalb County Road 878 on November 30, 2016.

The location: Flat Rock, Alabama.

History of tornadoes

El Nino Florida
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In this Feb. 2, 2007, photo, an automobile rests next to a home in The Villages, Florida, after strong thunderstorms and a tornado damaged many homes. 

In 2020, Florida alone saw 62 tornadoes.

Painful recovery

Moore Residents Continue Painful Recovery From Massive Tornado Strike
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Sabrina Mitchell fights back emotions as she searches for her belongings in what was the second floor bedroom of her home after it was destroyed by a tornado on May 24, 2013 in Moore, Oklahoma. 

A two-mile wide EF-5 tornado touched down in Moore four days earlier, killing at least 24 people and leaving behind extensive damage to homes and businesses.

Damage in historic Georgia

Tornado Damages Buildings In Newnan, Georgia
Scott Cunningham / Getty Images

Scott Lawrence of Newnan works on tornado damage to a home on March 26, 2021 in Newnan, Georgia. 

According to reports, an EF-4 rated tornado had passed through Newnan and parts of nearby Coweta and Heard counties.

Severe damage

Nineteen Dead As Tornadoes Roar Across Tennessee, Including Nashville
Brett Carlsen / Getty Images

A home is shown destroyed by high winds from one of several tornadoes that tore through the state overnight on March 3, 2020 in Cookeville, Tennessee. 

At least 19 people were killed and scores more injured in those storms.

The heart of tornado country

Oklahoma Tornado
Tony Gutierrez / AP

Here’s an aerial view of Towers Plaza Elementary school after a tornado hit on May 20, 2013, in Moore, Oklahoma.

Seven third-grade students were killed.

Cat rescue

Oklahoma Tornado
Charlie Riedel / AP

Brittany Brown rushes to get aid after finding her grandmother’s cat, “Kitty,” who was buried in tornado rubble for two days at the grandmother’s destroyed home on, May 22, 2013 in Moore, Oklahoma. 

Cleanup continued for two days after the huge tornado roared through the Oklahoma City suburb, flattening a wide swath of homes and businesses.

Nothing left

Oklahoma Tornado
Tony Gutierrez / AP

An aerial view of tornado damage shows a neighborhood where some homes were wiped completely off their foundations Tuesday, May 21, 2013, in Moore, Oklahoma.

Searching a fireplace

Oklahoma Tornado
Charlie Riedel / AP

Abby Cotten searches for belongings in a fireplace on May 25, 2013 in Moore, Okla.

The scene: The tornado-ravaged home she shared with her parents.

Upside-down

Oklahoma Tornado
Charlie Riedel / AP

An old car sits in wrecked tornado debris Thursday, May 23, 2013, in Moore, Okla. 

The huge tornado was later directly blamed for the deaths of 25 people.

Rescuing a child

Oklahoma Tornado Making It Safer
Mike Gullett / AP

In this May 22, 2011 photo, a man carries a girl who was rescued after being trapped with her mother in their home after a tornado hit Joplin, Missouri.

The death toll from that storm: at least 116 people.

Flying roof

One Killed In Missouri During Major Tornado Outbreak In Midwest
Jon Durr / Getty Images

A roof from an adjacent building landed on a pole during a tornado on March 1, 2017 in Perryville, Missouri. 

At least one person was killed when the tornado crossed Interstate 55.

No passage

Over 20 Dead After Tornadoes Roar Across Tennessee, Including Nashville
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Downed power lines damaged by a storm are seen in the North Nashville neighborhood following devastating tornadoes on March 3, 2020 in Nashville, Tennessee. 

At least 22 people were reportedly killed after tornadoes ripped across Tennessee, causing widespread damage.

North Carolina tornado

TORNADO NORTH CAROLINA
Chris Seward / AP

Damage is showed at a picnic shelter roof in Brunswick County, North Carolina near the town of Sunset Beach on Wednesday, February 17, 2021. 

Officials said a ferocious tornado struck two days earlier, just inland from the barrier island Ocean Isle Beach.

History lost?

Tornado Causes Damage In Bertram, Texas
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Amanda Powell surveys the damage to her business, Bertram Blend and Boutique, after a severe thunderstorm on March 23, 2021 in Bertram, Texas. 

No injuries were reported, but a suspected tornado heavily damaged multiple buildings, some of which were more than a century old, in downtown Bertram.

Eyes up

Tornado Causes Damage In Bertram, Texas
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Robert Alford surveys damage to the office of Bullock, Bennett & Associates, an engineering and environmental consulting business, after a severe thunderstorm on March 23, 2021 in Bertram, Texas. 

The damage was linked to a suspected tornado in downtown Bertram.

More devastation

Tornado Causes Damage In Bertram, Texas
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Here’s another view of the damage to Bertram Blend and Boutique. 

Seen in this photo: Amanda Powell and Cierra Walters as they survey the damage. The business has since recovered

Two dead in Texas

Tornado Claims Two Lives In Texas Town Of Van
Ron Jenkins / Getty Images

Volunteers and officials search through the destruction near Van Intermediate School after a tornado on May 11, 2015 in Van, Texas. 

The small city was struck by a tornado in the evening of May 10, leaving at least two dead and more missing.

The power of a tornado

Tornado North Carolina
Chris Seward / AP

A man stands by a overturned motor home on Wednesday, February 17, 2021 at Ocean Ridge Storage Solutions in Brunswick County, North Carolima.

In the immediate aftermath of the storm, the Red Cross assisted 45 people in finding new places to live, and navigating insurance. 

Downed semi

Tornado Slams Into Small Northern Illinois Town
Jon Durr / Getty Images

A semi was knocked on its side while parked behind the restaurant Grubstakers on IL-64 after a tornado came through the previous night, April 10, 2015, in Rochelle, Illinois. 

According to reports, 11 people were injured and one person was killed when tornadoes and thunderstorms passed through the northwestern suburbs of Chicago.

Trapped pooch

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A dog trapped in tornado rubble in Picher, Oklahoma, tries to climb out of the debris, Monday, May 12, 2008. 

The dog was freed soon after.