City death toll expected to rise

The city has confirmed 39 deaths, 455 missing people and more than 1,000 injuries, said Tuscaloosa Mayor Walt Maddox in a press conference Sunday afternoon.

The names of the 39 confirmed deaths in the city and county were released during the press conference.

The city has removed 123 names from the list of missing people because they have been located or identified as a duplicate of a person already listed.

Maddox extended the curfew to Monday and Tuesday, both of which will have a curfew from 8 p.m. until 6 a.m.

Whether someone is arrested for breaking the curfew will be determined by the discretion of the police officer, Maddox said.

To supplement the teams of cadaver dogs that have combed the debris and rubble for bodies trapped underneath, the city began using helicopter flare technology Saturday evening that can detect the body heat of decomposing bodies.

Although the flare technology discovered no bodies last evening, the city will continue to use the flare technology to make use of every resource at its disposal.

“We are doing everything in our power to conduct search and rescue missions,” Maddox said.

The city cannot assure citizens what method will work best to discover bodies hidden underneath the stacks of rubble.

“We’re trying everything,” said City Clerk Tracy Croom. “If somebody says it might work, we’re going to try it.”

From surveying the debris and rubble in the affected areas, Maddox said he expects the number of confirmed deaths to rise.

“My heart tells me that we will have many more fatalities,” he said.

Search and rescue operations are being conducted in grid patterns based on the information given to the city.

“The debris fields are massive,” he said. “This is going to be a very long, arduous and painful process.”

During the press conference, a map was shown to depict the distribution of the deaths from the tornado.

“As to the statistical nature of the storm, it was indiscriminate,” he said.

The city is not receiving reports of people struggling to find shelter.

“A large number of people who have been displaced by the storm have found refuge with family or friends within the city,” he said.

The city has established 12 sites for temporary housing and is transitioning its focus to ensuring that the homeless and those with houses damaged establish contact with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, he said.