Constance Foster, 45, of Tuscaloosa, Alabama, had been hearing vague tornado warnings all day on April 27, 2011. But what she saw when she opened her front door was anything but vague. She watched in horror as a small vortex formed, and then felt consumed by a much larger one. "It expanded like a mouth of hell," she told NPR.
A red truck flew though the air as Constance scooped up her granddaughter Alaysia and dove into her closet. Constance cradled the child and gripped the closet door shut as their apartment collapsed, burying them under a mountain of brick and wood.
Fortunately for them, Constance and Alaysia had relatives close by who dug through the rubble and helped them to safety. But not everyone was so lucky. Almost a week later, some 340 people were still missing in Tuscaloosa alone.
(Photo: Madel Ngan/Getty)