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National Weather: Death toll climbs; dozens injured; homes destroyed

Powerful storms killed at least eight people and injured dozens more as they pushed across the South over the weekend, bringing destruction from Texas to Alabama.

The National Weather Service confirmed at least 17 tornadoes left behind swaths of damage in Mississippi, Alabama and Texas. The same system produced a possible tornado in Ohio as the storm moved northeast. Overnight, storms brought down trees and power lines in and around Richmond, Virginia. The Times-Dispatch reported that more than 78,000 customers were without electricity Monday morning.

More than 200,000 homes and businesses were without power Monday morning from North Carolina through the MidAtlantic and from Ohio to Rhode Island, according to poweroutage.us.

Two children were killed in East Texas on Saturday after a tree fell on the vehicle they were riding in during a severe storm near Pollok, KTRE-TV reported. A woman who was injured Saturday when a tornado hit the Caddo Mounds State Historic Site near Alto, Texas, later died of her injuries, KLTV reported. The storm hit during a Native American cultural event.

Also in Texas, the Houston County Sheriff’s Office confirmed one fatality as a result of the storms in Weches, 6 miles southwest of Caddo Mound, the Associated Press reported.

Two deaths in Louisiana was attributed to the storms. Deputy Glenn Springfield, a spokesman for the Ouachita Parish Sheriff’s Office, told weather.com 13-year-old Sebastian Omar Martinez drowned in a drainage ditch in West Monroe, Louisiana, about 4:50 p.m. Saturday. Rain had filled the ditch with water, Springfield said.

Springfield also said a person was found dead about 10:15 p.m. Saturday night in Calhoun, Louisiana, in a vehicle submerged in floodwaters on Golson Road, just south of the I-20 service road. The victim had not been identified.

An employee of Jefferson County in Alabama died after being struck by a vehicle while he was helping clear away trees about 2:15 a.m. Sunday, AP reported.

At times on Sunday, more than 125,000 homes and businesses across the South and up into Kentucky and Missouri were without electricity, according to poweroutage.us.

The storms brought hail to the Dallas Fort Worth International Airport on Saturday and led to more than 680 flights being canceled. Airport spokesman Casey Norton told the Associated Press almost 7,000 people spent the night in DFW terminals. Another 300 flights were canceled on Sunday.

Alabama

Shortly after 8 a.m. Sunday, a tornado was confirmed near Troy, Alabama, about 50 miles south of Montgomery. A number of mobile homes were damaged and live web cameras showed an overturned vehicle and downed power lines.

Near the Birmingham suburb of Hueytown, a county employee died after being struck by a vehicle while he was helping clear away trees about 2:15 a.m. Sunday, said Capt. David Agee of the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office. The man, whose name was not immediately released, died after being taken to a hospital.

One woman in Troy, Alabama, was trapped in her car Sunday morning when the tornado wrapped sheets of metal around the vehicle, WSFA reported. The station said a number of businesses were damaged.

Mobile homes were tossed about in the Hunters Mountain Mobile Home Park, the Troy Messenger reported. Roofs were blown off buildings in downtown Troy, which is about 44 miles southeast of Montgomery, Alabama. Streets were littered with debris and numerous homes and businesses were without electricity.

“We’ve had one minor injury reported so far, someone turned over in a vehicle due to wind,” Troy Mayor Jason Reeves told the Messenger. “Otherwise there are no other injuries reported. That’s a tremendous blessing.”

Cecelia Fran Quakenbush said one of the overturned mobile homes landed on her sons’ home.

“My daughter called and said ‘Get out now’,” Quakenbush told the Messenger. “I turned around and peeked out the front and (a mobile home) was up in the air and flipped onto the house. I laid to the ground and prayed for God to watch over us. I didn’t know if my sons were alive.”

The storm also toppled trees and damaged roofs in Shelby County, southeast of Birmingham, early Sunday, according to WVTM.

Mississippi

A 95-year-old man died late Saturday after a tree fell on his mobile home in Hamilton, Mississippi, about 93 miles northwest of Birmingham, Alabama, the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal reported. Monroe County Coroner Alan Gurley identified the man as Roy Ratliff.

Several people were hospitalized after the tornado, which also severely damaged a hospital clinic, apartments, storage units, a mechanic’s shop and the Hamilton Volunteer Fire Department station. The Monroe County Morgue was destroyed, the Daily Journal reported.

Robert and Linda Scott were in their home of 53 years when the tornado hit Hamilton. “Next thing I knew, I was sitting in the yard,” Robert Scott told The Weather Channel’s Kelli O’Hara.

Scott said he was blessed to be alive as he stood in front of the mound of debris that used to be his house.

“We’ll rebuild and keep on going,” he told O’Hara. “That’s the main thing — that we’re alive.”

The AP also reported that a hotel roof in New Albany, Mississippi, was damaged earlier Saturday evening.

A “strong and dangerous” long-tracked tornado was reported in Vicksburg, Mississippi, Saturday afternoon.

Storm tracker Charles Peek told The Weather Channel the possible tornado busted windows and damaged a Kroger and other stores at a strip mall. He noted that the damage didn’t appear to be too extensive.

Multiple people were injured and multiple homes damaged, according to Monroe County Coroner Alan Gurley. At least one mobile home was destroyed, throwing a man from the structure.

At Mississippi State University 21,000 students sheltered in basements and hallways. Debris and downed trees were spotted on campus but no injuries were reported.

Texas

The Angelina County Sheriff’s Office confirmed the deaths of the two boys on Saturday in East Texas. The sheriff said the children’s parents were able to exit the vehicle safely, KTRE reported. On Sunday, KETK identified the children as 3-year-old Jace Creel and 8-year-old Dilynn Creel. Dilynn was a second-grade student at Central Elementary School in Pollok.

The car was caught in one of numerous storms that caused damage in East Texas on Saturday.

A long-track tornado began Saturday morning south of Calvert, in Robertson County, before hitting the town of Franklin, located about two hours east of Waco. The National Weather Service confirmed an EF-3 tornado hit the town of about 1,700 people.

“It’s hard to describe,” Franklin Police Chief Terry Thibodeaux said. “You’ve got houses turned over. You’ve got houses off foundations. It looks like a bomb.”

The intense tornado destroyed 55 homes, a church, four businesses, a duplex and part of the local housing authority building, KTBX reported. Robertson County Judge Charles Ellison told the TV station that the south side of the town is destroyed.

People were trapped in their damaged homes, according to KHOU. There were reports of injuries, down trees, flipped trailers and damaged homes. There were also reports of collapsed buildings downtown.

Robertson County Sheriff Gerald Yezak told The Weather Channel there were numerous injuries, including many “walking wounded.” He said others were taken to the emergency rooms but he couldn’t say how many. He noted there were no reports of fatalities.

Judge Ellison told KHOUS on Sunday that about a dozen people were injured, some with broken bones.

Storm tracker Bob Pack told The Weather Channel he saw numerous homes damaged, trees snapped and cars blown off the road.

The tornado also damaged the Franklin Safari Park along Highway 79, but no animals escaped, ABC13 reported.

“Really it’s devastating because so many people lost their homes,” Franklin resident Shunte Witherspoon told KHOU. “Of course they can be replaced but … my cousin and her family were in their mobile home and they just started spinning. And if they hadn’t hit a tree, they’d probably still be spinning.”

Two tornadoes were confirmed to have hit the town of Alto on Saturday. The National Weather Service confirmed on Sunday that the earlier storm was an EF-2 tornado and the second storm was an EF-3.

Jeremy Jackson, chief of police in Alto, said 25 people were transported from the Caddo Mounds State Historic Site, where a field day event — the Caddo Culture Day — was underway when the storm hit. Jackson said the area took “a direct hit.”

Officials estimated 30 to 40 people were injured at Caddo Mounds, and four or five of those had critical injuries, KLTV reported. Cherokee County Judge Chris Davis confirmed that one of the injured women later died of her injuries, KLTV also reported.

Chief Jackson said dozens of home in Alto were destroyed and people became trapped by the storms.

“I’ve seen brick homes flattened,” said Jackson. “I’ve seen homes moved across county roads.

One of the two twisters caused a school gymnasium to collapse on one end.

The Alto school district has canceled classes until all buildings are deemed safe for students and staff, KYTX reported. The Kennard cancelled Monday classes because of power outages, KLTV reported.

Lufkin High School, which was damaged in the storm, also will not have any classes Monday.

Editor’s Note: This story was written by The Weather Company. 
Stephanie Weaver

Stephanie Weaver

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