I talked with both my sister Maddie and her husband Mark in the last couple of days and they filled me in on a lot of things. They have no power, and most of North Alabama has no power. Their phones are working, and most of the time I have been able to get through to them. There are problems with landline phone lines in a lot of places, though. Most cell towers are no longer working due to the power loss. Internet connections seem to still be up, at least depending on who the ISP is and how long they can run their generators. One of the tornadoes (probably this one – http://forecast.weather.gov/product.php?site=HUN&issuedby=HUN&product=PNS&format=CI&version=8&glossary=1) knocked down the main transmission lines from the Browns Ferry Nuclear Plant, which knocked out power for a LOT of people. There are now something like a million people in central and northern Alabama with no power, and power will likely not be restored for much of them for 5 to 7 more days, although parts of Huntsville should have power restored by Monday. The church near their house in Madison has lost its steeple, and there is a lot of visible damage in their area. There is now a dusk-to-dawn curfew for all of Madison and Limestone Counties, and for other areas of Alabama as well. Several thousand National Guard have been called up, since many small towns are overwhelmed and there are already problems with looting. There has already been at least one incident in Huntsville of someone shooting and killing a looter who broke into a gas station. Most people are unable to get gas for their cars or generators because so many gas stations have no power to work the pumps. Most schools are closed until at least Monday, and some may be closed longer. UAH is closed. All non-essential personnel from Redstone Arsenal have been told to stay home. Most businesses are closed, although some (like Publix) are open with reduced hours as they manage to keep their generator running.
This site shows you before and after of some of the damage, as seen from the air. http://blog.al.com/spotnews/2011/04/alabama_tornadoes_close-up_sat.html
The total casualties for this are still unknown, but the official count for the state is now up to 254 dead (remember, that is just Alabama) and the number of injured is almost certainly into the thousands, as I have seen reports of hospitals in the Tuscaloosa area alone taking in 900-1,000 injured.
So yes, although it is quite a mess and I have not spoken with all of the people we know, at least immediate family and friends are ok.