Storms take lives across South

Twisters hit Texas towns; dozens hurt

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - Front Page -

Storms swept across the South over the week­end, un­leash­ing sus­pected tor­na­does and flood­ing that killed at least eight peo­ple, in­jured dozens and flat­tened much of a Texas town. Three chil­dren were among the dead.

Nearly 90,000 cus­tomers were re­ported with­out elec­tric­ity in Texas, Mis­sis­sippi, Louisiana, Arkansas and Ge­or­gia as of mid­day Sun­day.

At least one per­son was killed and about two dozen oth­ers were in­jured af­ter a sus­pected tor­nado struck the Caddo Mounds State His­toric Site in east Texas dur­ing an Amer­i­can In­dian cul­tural event Satur­day af­ter­noon in Alto, about 130 miles south­east of Dal­las. County Judge Chris Davis of Chero­kee County said the fa­tal­ity was a woman.

In neigh­bor­ing Hous­ton County, the sher­iff’s of­fice said one per­son was killed in Weches, 6 miles south­west of Caddo Mound.

There was wide­spread dam­age in Alto, a town of

about 1,200 peo­ple, and the school dis­trict can­celed classes un­til its build­ings can be deemed safe.

A tor­nado Satur­day morn­ing flat­tened much of the south side of Franklin, Texas, over­turn­ing mo­bile homes and dam­ag­ing other res­i­dences, said Robert­son County Sher­iff Ger­ald Yezak. Franklin is about 125 miles south of Dal­las.

The Na­tional Weather Ser­vice said pre­lim­i­nary in­for­ma­tion showed that an EF3 tor­nado touched down in that area pack­ing winds of 140 mph.

The tor­nado de­stroyed 55 homes, a church, four busi­nesses, a du­plex, and part of the lo­cal hous­ing author­ity build­ing, au­thor­i­ties said. Two peo­ple were hos­pi­tal­ized with in­juries that were not con­sid­ered life-threat­en­ing, and oth­ers were treated at the scene, Yezak said. Some peo­ple had to be ex­tri­cated from dam­aged build­ings.

On Satur­day about 3 p.m., two chil­dren were killed on a back road in east Texas when a pine tree fell onto the car in which they were rid­ing dur­ing a se­vere thun­der­storm near Pol­lok, about 150 miles south­east of Dal­las.

The tree “flat­tened the car like a pan­cake,” said Capt. Al­ton Len­der­man of the Angelina County sher­iff’s of­fice. The chil­dren, ages 8 and 3, died at the scene. Both par­ents, who were in the front seat, es­caped in­jury, he said.

Heavy rains and storms raked Mis­sis­sippi late into the night Satur­day as the storms moved east.

Roy Ratliff, 95, died af­ter a tree crashed onto his trailer dur­ing a po­ten­tial tor­nado late Satur­day in north­east­ern Mis­sis­sippi, Mon­roe County Road Man­ager Sonny Clay said at a news con­fer­ence. Nine­teen peo­ple were taken to hos­pi­tals, in­clud­ing two in crit­i­cal con­di­tion. A tor­nado was re­ported in the area about 140 miles south­east of Mem­phis at the time.

In Hamil­ton, Miss., 72-year-old Robert Scott said he had been sleep­ing in his re­cliner late Satur­day when he was awak­ened and found him­self in his yard af­ter a tor­nado ripped most of his home off its foun­da­tion.

His 71-year-old wife, Linda, was in a dif­fer­ent part of the house and also sur­vived, he said. They found each other while crawl­ing through the rem­nants of the house they had lived in since 1972.

“We’re liv­ing, and God has blessed us,” Scott, a re­tired man­ager for a gro­cery store meat de­part­ment, said Sun­day as neigh­bors helped him sal­vage his be­long­ings.

Na­tional Weather Ser­vice me­te­o­rol­o­gist John Moore in Mis­sis­sippi said a pos­si­ble twister touched down in the Vicks­burg area. No in­juries were re­ported, but of­fi­cials re­ported dam­age to sev­eral busi­nesses and ve­hi­cles.

The storm dam­aged the roof of a ho­tel in New Al­bany, Miss., and Mis­sis­sippi State Univer­sity’s 21,000 stu­dents hud­dled in base­ments and hall­ways as a tor­nado neared the cam­pus in Starkville about 11 p.m. Satur­day.

Univer­sity spokesman Sid Sal­ter said some de­bris, pos­si­bly car­ried by the tor­nado, was found on cam­pus, but no in­juries were re­ported and no build­ings were dam­aged. Trees were top­pled, and mi­nor dam­age was re­ported in res­i­den­tial ar­eas east of the cam­pus.

The storm sys­tem also caused flash flood­ing in Louisiana, where two deaths were re­ported.

Se­bas­tian Omar Martinez, 13, drowned in a drainage canal dur­ing flash flood­ing about 4:30 p.m. Satur­day in Baw­comville, near Mon­roe, said Deputy Glenn Spring­field of the Oua­chita Parish sher­iff’s of­fice. Sep­a­rately, one per­son died when a car be­came sub­merged in flood­wa­ters in Cal­houn, also near Mon­roe.

As the storm moved into Alabama about 2:15 a.m. Sun­day, a pos­si­ble tor­nado knocked out power and dam­aged mo­bile homes in Troy, about 50 miles south of Mont­gomery.

Near the Birm­ing­ham sub­urb of Huey­town, a county em­ployee died af­ter he was struck by a ve­hi­cle while he was help­ing clear trees from a road­way, said Capt. David Agee of the Jefferson County sher­iff’s of­fice. The man, whose name was not re­leased by Sun­day evening, died af­ter be­ing taken to a hos­pi­tal.

The fore­cast of se­vere weather forced of­fi­cials at the Masters in Au­gusta, Ga., to start the fi­nal round of the golf tour­na­ment early on Sun­day in or­der to fin­ish in midafter­noon be­fore it be­gan rain­ing.

In Arkansas, En­tergy spokesman Kerri Case said 3,200 cus­tomers were with­out power statewide as of Sun­day af­ter­noon. Most of the power fail­ures were in Pu­laski and Hot Spring coun­ties.

“The ground was re­ally sat­u­rated when the storm came in, so we had trees fall­ing down from the roots, which is un­usual for a storm with 40 mph” winds, Case said. “Downed trees have slowed down the restora­tion process, but we have crews work­ing on it.”

En­tergy Arkansas’ power-fail­ure maps showed more than 3,300 cus­tomers with­out power in Pu­laski County as of 6:30 p.m. Satur­day and more than 19,200 with­out elec­tric­ity statewide.

AP/JIM LYTLE

Ro­man Brown (left) and Sam Craw­ford move part of a shower wall out of their way Sun­day as they help a friend look for medicine in the ru­ins of a home out­side Hamil­ton, Miss.

AP/JIM LYTLE

Robert Scott looks through a fam­ily Bible that he pulled from the rub­ble of his home out­side Hamil­ton, Miss., on Sun­day.

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