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Tornadoes rip across the South

LOUISVILLE, Miss. (AP) - A dangerous storm system that spawned a chain of deadly tornadoes over three days flattened homes and businesses, forced frightened residents in more than half a dozen states to take cover and left tens of thousands in the dark Tuesday.

As the storm hopscotched across a large swath of the U.S., the overall death toll was at least 29, with 12 killed Monday and 17 Sunday in a band stretching from Oklahoma to Alabama. Forecasts showed the storm continuing to move east Tuesday, with Georgia and Alabama residents waking to sirens, howling wind and pounding rain.

Others found their loved ones missing and their homes pulverized. Along Mississippi Highway 397 on the eastern edge of Louisville, firefighters picked through the remains of mobile homes, searching for three people unaccounted for after a tornado tore through. Twenty firefighters linked hands and waded through an area where wood frame homes had also been heavily damaged. Rescue workers stepped gingerly over downed power lines and trees that were snapped in half and stripped of branches.

The Louisville tornado caused water damage and carved holes in the roof of the Winston Medical Center. The emergency room was evacuated Monday.

"We thought we were going to be OK, then a guy came in and said, 'It's here right now,'" said Dr. Michael Henry, head of the emergency room. "Then boom ... it blew through."

Republican state Sen. Giles Ward huddled in a bathroom with his wife, four other family members and their dog as the tornado destroyed his two-story brick house in Louisville and flipped his son-in-law's SUV upside down onto the patio.

"For about 30 seconds, it was unbelievable," Ward said. "It's about as awful as anything we've gone through."

Officials said seven people died in Winston County, where Louisville is the county seat, with about 6,600 people. It was unclear whether those any of those deaths were included in the state's total tally.

Another person died in Mississippi when her car either hydroplaned or was blown off a road during the storm in Verona, south of Tupelo, Lee County Coroner Carolyn Gillentine Green said.

One of the seven victims in Winston County was a woman who died in the day care center she owned in Louisville, county Coroner Scott Gregory told The Associated Press late Monday. Authorities were returning to the center Tuesday.

One seriously injured child was evacuated, said state Rep. Michael Evans, D-Louisville, who is acting as a liaison for the county. The child's condition was not known Tuesday. Evans said authorities don't think any other children were in the center during the storm.

"No other parents have shown up to say, 'My child was at the daycare.' That's why we think the day care is fine," Evans said.

In Tupelo, a community of about 35,000 in northeastern Mississippi, every building in a two-block area was damaged, officials on the scene said.

On Tuesday morning, a blanket of fog hung over the city as authorities switched from a search-and-rescue mission to cleanup duties.

In one residential neighborhood, destroyed homes sat steps away from those left unscathed. Crews cleared trees tangled with power lines, fixed cracked roadway signs and removed debris from streets.

In Kimberly, Ala., about 20 miles north of Birmingham, a suspected tornado hit at a crossroads before midnight Monday, tearing the A-shaped roof off the town's Church of God. On Tuesday morning, the roof sat in a solid piece beside the red brick church.

Across the street, the cinderblock walls from an old fishing supply store were scattered around the gravel parking lot. The building's metal frame remained. Down the road, the fire department was flattened.

Tim Armstrong picked up pieces of splintered trees in his backyard. Armstrong, his wife and their two young daughters were home when the storm struck. He said they were listening to weather reports on television and heard an all-clear for their area.

"Three minutes later my mother-in-law calls, says there's a tornado in Morris," a nearby town, Armstrong said. "The power went out, and we went running to the middle of the house."

They heard the wind roaring and glass shattering as a tree flew through their front door. "Once I heard that, I knew something was pretty wrong. It was fast. It was so fast."

The whole thing was over a minute later, he said.

In northern Alabama, the coroner's office confirmed two deaths in a twister that caused extensive damage west of the city of Athens, Limestone County Emergency Director Rita White. White said Monday night that rescuers could not reach some areas because of downed power lines.

The threat of dangerous weather jangled nerves a day after the third anniversary of a historic outbreak of more than 60 tornadoes that killed more than 250 people across Alabama on April 27, 2011.

Separately, Limestone Commissioner Bill Latimer said he received reports of four deaths in the county from one of his workers. Neither the governor's office nor state emergency officials could immediately confirm those deaths.

In southern Tennessee, two people were killed in a home when a suspected tornado hit Monday night, Lincoln County Emergency Management Director Mike Hall said. The winds destroyed several other homes as well as a middle school in the county that borders Alabama, Hall said.

The storm system is the latest onslaught of severe weather a day after a half-mile-wide tornado carved an 80-mile path of destruction through the suburbs of Little Rock, Ark., killing at least 15. Tornadoes or severe storms also killed one person each in Oklahoma and Iowa on Sunday.

Join the discussion

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ppthaman April 29 2014 at 9:51 AM

i living same plse now i work milwaukee wi
my mom house also gone maritta mississippi i miss my house

Flag Reply +1 rate up
mlbs1065 April 29 2014 at 9:03 AM

my thoughts and prayers go out to all the victims of the deadly tornadoes i have lived 48 years without ever going through what these people are going through I can only imagine how they must feel.

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Erbie's April 29 2014 at 11:29 AM

Linn, Mississippi, way back when. Felt house float on the concrete blocks, hail that looked in those younger days the size of a soft ball come thru the kitchen window, Sassfrass tree bigger round than I was tall blew down next to porch at kitchen door. Tornados can be heart stopping, for real, and heart stopping memories.

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Mr. P April 29 2014 at 11:28 AM

my prayers goes out all the family . GOD BLESS.

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onyota1 April 29 2014 at 11:15 AM

For the Families that have lost love ones my My heart is heavy with pain such as yours is .
It's never a pleasant thing to deal with the daeth of anyone . Rest in peace all who have parished .
This is a time when the goverment needs to step in and help it's people out for a change .
I'm not going to get on the subject of helping other countries , thats already been done for me
by other commentors on here . I just hope and pray for the best outcome for all who's lives have
been shattered . The strong shall survive and there are many there that are strong because
they have been through it before . SHATTERED LIVES WILL BECOME WHOLE AGAIN .

Flag Reply +3 rate up
Lisa April 29 2014 at 9:00 AM

Even though I too am posting here, I wish AOL would not allow posting on stories like this. This story is not the place to have a religious or political debate, pick on others who post or just be mean and nasty. Here in the US, we have the right to be free. You have the right to worship anyone you want or not and like or dislike any political party you want. There are so many posters who get on here and do not seem to care about their fellow human. I don't care what someones religion is or if they are gay. I don't care if you like the President.....It's your right. What I do care about is trying to be a decent human and feel something other than a smug remark towards my fellow human. I lost everything I had, except my kids, in hurricane Andrew many years ago. Each one of you have a strong possibility of being in a natural or man made disaster in your life. How would you feel if you lost it all, maybe even a family member, photos you can't replace, life as you know it.........just to read something ignorant written by someone who thinks they are funny but NOT! All that matters is each POSITIVE thing said that may make a victim feel a little hope! Watch, I'll guarantee someone will pick me apart. It's an illness !

Flag Reply +13 rate up
3 replies
shirl378 April 29 2014 at 11:15 AM

who knows where a tornado is going to hit, it can be anywhere.

Flag Reply +3 rate up
kenbushway April 29 2014 at 9:14 AM

Best wishes and fast recovery for the families that survived through this, for those who didn't I am sorry for those families, may they have better days in the future.

Flag Reply +3 rate up
tjcnopops2 April 29 2014 at 1:58 PM

A map would be nice.

Flag Reply +2 rate up
1 reply
kcarthey tjcnopops2 April 29 2014 at 2:35 PM

You can likely find on on the Weather Channel.

Flag Reply 0 rate up
Gail April 29 2014 at 11:13 AM

All I can offer are my thoughts and prayers for all in the paths of these awful storms. They can happen anyplace but I think if I HAD to live in the more prone areas, my home would be underground. I'm not sure if anything above ground could be tornado proof.

Flag Reply +1 rate up
1 reply
rodzakj Gail April 29 2014 at 11:21 AM

There is a GOD.When disaster strikes everybody prays to God. What about the good times,do you pray to God?

Flag Reply +3 rate up
1 reply
Darryl rodzakj April 29 2014 at 12:27 PM

nope they sin more in the good times.

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