75 Million Americans Under Threat of Severe Weather
People from the Great Lakes to the Gulf Coast, and from the Midwest to the East Coast, are advised to keep their eyes to the sky and their ears to the radio. That’s a third of the country.
The greatest risk will again be in the Deep South, with Mississippi and Alabama in the bulls eye for the worst of the storms.
The first two days of this powerful spring storm system, which is expected to rage into Wednesday, claimed 29 lives in six states.
People in northern Mississippi and Alabama huddled in hallways and basements on Monday as a string of tornadoes ripped through their states.
Eight people died in Mississippi on Monday, the state emergency management office reported early Tuesday. Few additional details were immediately available.
Two people died in Lincoln County, Tennessee, near the border with Alabama, emergency officials said.
Two more people were killed at a trailer park west of Athens, Alabama, according to a post on the city’s Facebook page. A third person died in Tuscaloosa after a retaining wall collapsed on him.
Severe weather also rumbled through the Birmingham area late Monday.
“We got report of damages in Kimberly, Morris (and) Bessemer,” said Horace Walker a spokesman for Jefferson County Emergency Management. “No reports of injuries, but I expect for that to change because we do have entrapments.”
Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley declared a state of emergency for all counties.
Mississippi hit hard
Of the eight fatalities in Mississippi, one of them occurred in Richland, said Rankin County Emergency Management Director Bob Wedgeworth.
Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant said the twisters inflicted “severe damage” around the town of Louisville, about 90 miles northeast of Jackson, and more around Tupelo.
Winston Medical Center, Louisville’s major hospital, was among the buildings hit.
“The Winston Medical Center has received damage from a tornado. Walls are down. Some gas leak is occurring,” Bryant said.
The storm destroyed Britney Butler’s home in Tupelo, CNN affiliate WMC-TV reported.
“It hurts to look, because I won’t come home tonight,” said Butler, who still managed to put on a smile after discovering her dog had come out unscathed. “Oreo means the most to me.”
Elsewhere in Tupelo, several buildings were destroyed or damaged. Buildings near a major commercial district on the city’s north side were “wiped away,” Scott Morris, a reporter for the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal, told CNN’s “The Lead.”
Numerous trees and power lines were down, and “quite a few buildings are destroyed up there,” Morris said.
As things got ugly in Tupelo, Matt Laubhan, the chief meteorologist at Tupelo television station WTVA, took charge. He ordered station staff to take cover before walking off the set himself.
“Basement. Now … let’s go,” Laubhan said.