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Tornadoes rake eastern U.S.

As I write early this morning, a massive storm system is pushing eastward.

Earlier today, it spawned deadly tornadoes in Alabama and Georgia.

The most devastating was the giant super-cell twister that plowed through Tuscaloosa, Ala.

I have friends in Tuscaloosa. I've heard from one, who happens to be in California on business. He reported his neighborhood was spared. But I'm still waiting for word from the others who live in or near that central Alabama city.

And I have friends in the Washington, D.C., area, which also is in the storm's path, so it's going to be a long night.

Record-breaking dangerous weather:With the outbreak of 139 tornadoes (and still counting), April has become the most tornadic month ever.

But it's not just twisters that are causing problems. Before the Wednesday afternoon, Thursday morning storms hit, the Red Cross was working to help thousands who had come to that organization's shelters following storms earlier in the week.


As the disaster map shows there is substantial storm damage across more than half of the country.

The Red Cross says that since April 8, it has opened more than 40 shelters and provided more than 3,000 overnight stays to victims of natural disasters.

In conjunction with community partners, the Red Cross also has served nearly 250,000 meals and snacks and distributed more than 22,000 items, such as clean-up supplies and comfort kits, to people in the affected areas.

And it looks like much more assistance will be needed by the time tonight's storms are done. If you can help, it would be greatly appreciated.

Make a tax-deductible (if you itemize) donation online at the American Red Cross website.

Or text REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 contribution to the storm clean-up efforts.

Oklahoma county granted tax relief: Tonight's tornado outbreak comes on the heels of the IRS annoucement that Atoka County has been declared a federal disaster area.

In connection with that designation, the IRS has postponsed until June 30 any tax deadlines for folks who live or have a business in the disaster area.

This includes the just-passed April 18 deadline for filing 2010 individual income tax returns, making income tax payments and making 2010 contributions to an individual retirement account.

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