Storms kill 3 as tornadoes lash Southeast US: NPR

Greenville, Ohio resident Brenda Pollitt wipes tears from her eyes as she clears papers from her bedroom Wednesday. Pollitt and her children were at home when the strong storm hit Tuesday evening. She and her family ran downstairs and were all safe.

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Greenville, Ohio resident Brenda Pollitt wipes tears from her eyes as she clears papers from her bedroom Wednesday. Pollitt and her children were at home when the strong storm hit Tuesday evening. She and her family ran downstairs and were all safe.

Marshall Corby/AP

Columbia, Tenn. – Two people died in Tennessee and one died in North Carolina, after the storms produced damaging tornadoes and massive hail a day earlier, forecasters warned that a wave of dangerous storms could march south across the United States early Thursday.

The storms continue a series of rain and tornado outbreaks that have cut across the country this week, from the Plains to the Midwest and now the southeastern United States, where at least four people have died in the storms since Monday.

Amid Wednesday’s storms, the National Weather Service continued to issue tornado warnings past midnight for North Carolina, Alabama, Georgia, Missouri and Kentucky. Parts of Arkansas and Mississippi were also under a tornado watch by dawn.

A storm that swept across Northeast Tennessee on Wednesday brought high winds that brought down power lines and trees. Sheriff Bob Brooks in Claiborne County, about an hour north of Knoxville, said a 22-year-old man was in a car when he was hit by one of the trees.

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A second person was killed in Columbia, Maury County, where a tornado may have struck, the National Weather Service said. Columbia is south of Nashville.

According to Maury County 911 Assistant Director Lynn Thompson, homes were damaged and people were injured. Thompson told The Associated Press that he could not provide any further details: “We are overloaded right now.”

Rita Thompson, spokeswoman for Maori Regional Health, said the hospital had received five patients, including the deceased. Another was in critical condition, he said, while the injuries of three were not life-threatening.

The storms prompted the Federal Aviation Administration and the National Weather Service to issue a temporary ground shutdown at Nashville International Airport, which raised a tornado emergency — its highest warning level — to other nearby areas south of the state capital, including Chapel Hill and Eagleville.

Utility crews survey storm damage on Cothran Road Wednesday in Columbia, Tenn.

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Utility crews survey storm damage on Cothran Road Wednesday in Columbia, Tenn.

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Meanwhile, heavy rain and thunderstorms have led to water rescues northeast of Nashville.

“Do not attempt to travel until you have left an area under a flood or evacuation order,” the National Weather Service warned when it issued a flash flood emergency.

In North Carolina, Gaston County, west of Charlotte, declared a state of emergency Wednesday night after a large storm downed power lines and trees, including one that landed on a car. One person in the car was killed and another was taken to a hospital, officials said.

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Storms rolled through the region on Wednesday after parts of Central America were battered by heavy rain, strong winds, hail and tornadoes on Monday, including a deadly twister that tore through Oklahoma City and killed one person. Then, on Tuesday, the Midwest took the brunt of bad weather.

Tornadoes hit parts of Michigan, Ohio and Indiana on Tuesday, the National Weather Service said.

In Michigan, according to the National Weather Service, tornadoes hit the southwest part of the state and in and around Kalamazoo County. Gretchen Whitmer declared a state of emergency for 4 counties.

Debris surrounds storm-damaged mobile homes at Pavilion Estates Mobile Home Park, east of Kalamazoo, Mich., Wednesday, May 8, 2024.

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Debris surrounds storm-damaged mobile homes at Pavilion Estates Mobile Home Park, east of Kalamazoo, Mich., Wednesday, May 8, 2024.

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The Portage area of ​​Kalamazoo County was hit hard by the outage of a FedEx facility, with about 50 people temporarily trapped inside by downed power lines.

Travis Wyckoff was out Tuesday night after seeing a tornado hit the Portage area on radar and said he helped an elderly couple out of their partially collapsed home and freed a service dog from another home.

“A lot of people were running the streets trying to find people and their pets,” Wyckoff said. “It was very confusing.”

In nearby Pavilion Township, a dozen homes were destroyed and 16 people were injured at a mobile home park, Kalamazoo County Sheriff Richard Fuller said.

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Samantha Smith clutches a box outside her mother’s partially destroyed home in Pavilion Township Wednesday afternoon. Inside the box were her grandmother’s ashes. Being able to recover the most cherished items gave Smith a rare reprieve amid the storm’s devastation. He said his parents and brother were injured during the storm but survived.

“I’ve thanked God probably a billion times since this happened yesterday,” he said. “My children are healthy and well. We need to get back what we lost.”

Tornadoes were confirmed in Pennsylvania outside of Pittsburgh, as well as in central Arkansas and northern West Virginia. The West Virginia twister was at least the 11th tornado this year in the state, which sees an average of two tornadoes a year.

Both the Plains and the Midwest have been hit by tornadoes this spring.

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