(CHELSEA, Ind.) — A mother’s strength was no match for a deadly tornado that sucked her 4-year-old daughter out of her arms as the two huddled in a cellar in Chelsea, Ind.
The child and her great grandparents, who were upstairs during the twister, were found dead in a field behind their home.
“We lost a very good farmer, a good neighbor and his wife their great grandbaby,” Tony Williams, owner of the Chelsea General Store told ABCNews.com.
Forty miles west of Chelsea, in Salem, Ind., a blonde-haired, blue-eyed baby was found alone in a field. Authorities worked overnight to identify the girl’s family while she was being treated at Kosair Children’s Hospital in Louisville, Ky. The infant is listed in critical condition.
A hospital spokesperson told ABCNews.com on Saturday that the family had been identified, however he declined to say whether they were alive.
The deadly string of tornados turned tight knit rural communities into apocalyptic war zones. At least 31 people were killed Friday in Kentucky, Indiana and Ohio.
Schools were reduced to rubble, businesses were destroyed and families were left homeless by the disaster.
In Henryville, Ind., the town’s elementary, middle and high schools were completely wiped out. Receipts from the town were found 150 miles away in Cincinnati, carried by the brutal force of the storm.
The only structure left standing in the community of Marysville, Ind., was the town’s water tower.
“This was the worst-case scenario. There’s no way you can prepare for something like this,” Clark County Sheriff Danny Rodden told the Indianapolis Star.
Three bus loads of children, from elementary to high school, rode out the twister in Tony Williams’ Chelsea, Ind., store.
“There were a few kids who were upset and crying a little bit,” Williams said. “Being a rural community, everyone is really comforting to each other. Right now, we’re making sure people have food and a place to stay.”
The town of West Liberty, Ky., was completely flattened by the twister. Dozens were reported missing overnight Friday and at least two people were killed.
“The only thing I could think to pray was ‘In the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Ghost,'” resident Martha Jo Hall told the Herald-Leader. “And He took care of us.”
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Brian Stelter, CNN
Eliott C. McLaughlin and Joshua Berlinger, CNN