Former WNDU producer and South Bend native Jon Pinnick spoke with NewsCenter 16 about his account of Wednesday's tornadoes that devastated much of the south.
Pinnick, who currently works for the ABC affiliate in Birmingham, said the storm system took even the most seasoned meteorologists in Birmingham by surprise.
"There certainly is a lot of shock and everybody from our meteorologists who have been here for 30 years," said Pinnick. "Our meteorologist, this isn't his first rodeo, but he's never seen anything like this."
Pinnick described the scene as surreal, watching it unfold on radar and on-air as the meteorologist warned Birmingham residents to seek cover, knowing the system was approaching the populated downtown area of the city.
"Comparing it to something like the Nappanee tornado not too long ago... that was a major problem, but fortunately no one was killed," said Pinnick. "There were only a few injuries, but this is on the scale of Nappanee times ten and over an area that is 50 miles long, if not longer than that."
Alabama has a history of strong violent tornadoes that have caused extensive damage. In 1998, an F-5 tornado touched down in the area, but the string of tornadoes were nothing like anyone has seen.
"There is nothing that I've ever seen that compares to it," said Pinnick. "It's like a movie scene, except it's absolutely real."
Officials are trying to clear roads for emergency vehicles so they are able to go through each home and search for people who are still missing. It will likely be many weeks before the rebuilding process can begin across the south, but for some small towns there is not much left to build upon.