Death Toll From Twisters Rises to 7

A second day of tornadoes tore across Texas, Oklahoma and Louisiana.

Maria Jimenez looks through the rubble of her sister’s home in Onalaska, Texas, on Thursday. (Brett Coomer/Houston Chronicle via AP)

MADILL, Okla. (AP) — Severe weather blew through the South again Thursday, raising the death toll to at least seven people in Oklahoma, Texas and Louisiana, including a worker at a factory hit by a tornado, a man whose car was blown off the road and a man who went outside to grab a trash can and was swept away in a flood.

More than 150,000 businesses and homes from Texas to Georgia were without power as the severe weather blew eastward, snapping utility lines as trees fell, according to poweroutage.us, which tracks utility reports.

In Georgia, a tornado swept through the city of Adel in Cook County, tearing off roofs and flipping at least one car and a small plane.

Johnny West, Cook County’s emergency management director, told The Valdosta Daily Times there was damage throughout the county and “heavy damage” in the city. Photos submitted to WALB-TV show trees snapped in half and metal roofing material draped over some utility lines still standing.

Damage was caused by a combination of straight-line winds and the tornado, said Wright Dobbs, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service’s Tallahassee, Florida, office.

At least one tornado touched down Thursday evening north of Tallahassee near Interstate 10, according weather officials. Twitter users posted photos of downed trees in the area, and authorities warned people to stay away from downed power lines.

Winds peeled roofing material off a church in Alabama and sent an awning crashing onto a car at a gas station. In Adel, Georgia, pieces of metal flew off a building during a twister.

About 70 miles east of Birmingham in Anniston, a firefighter and an emergency medical worker were injured when part of a tree fell on them while they were rescuing a person trapped inside a home by a fallen tree, Anniston EMS said on its Facebook page. The workers and the resident were all taken to a hospital, but none of the injuries was life-threatening, the agency said.

Forecasters said more damage was possible from another wave of storms.

Earlier, a tornado killed three people and injured 20 to 30 more in and around the southeast Texas town of Onalaska. Twisters destroyed 46 homes and damaged another 245 in the surrounding area, according to Polk County Judge Sydney Murphy. The judge told the Beaumont Enterprise on Thursday that the dead included a woman in her 20s, a man in his 50s and another man whose age they don’t know.

“It took me 45 minutes to climb through the roof to get out,” said Charles Stephens of Onalaska. He told the Houston Chronicle that he and his wife were holed up in their bathroom when a large pine tree fell through their roof Wednesday night, and he had to use a hatchet to free his wife from the debris.

Nine tornadoes touched down in southern Oklahoma, National Weather Service meteorologist Alex Zwink said. One of them caused widespread damage across the town of Madill, near the Red River, said Donny Raley, the city’s emergency manager.

Just outside town, workers were leaving for the day from J&I Manufacturing, which makes trailers, when a twister hit. The body of a worker was later about a fourth of a mile away, Marshall County Emergency Management Director Robert Chaney said.

A second person died in Madill when the tornado blew his car off a highway: The body of Chad L. Weyant, 46, of Madill was found in the median and his car in a nearby field, according to an Oklahoma Highway Patrol report.

A Louisiana man was found dead after a witness saw him try to retrieve a trash can from water near a drainage ditch. He lost his footing and was swept away by floodwaters, DeSoto Parish Sheriff Jayson Richardson told The Shreveport Times.

“There was some pretty extreme flooding here in Mansfield. Water like I’ve not seen in many, many years, if ever,” the sheriff told the newspaper. “Basically, the water rose really fast and we had to rescue some people out of homes. I think we had about 20 or so homes that people were flooded in.”

News outlets reported that Becky Carter Roberts, 67, was killed during a storm in Lecompte, Louisiana, 15 miles south of Alexandria.

Louisiana State University System President Tom Galligan said the Alexandria campus lost power and water because of the storms. He said the approximately 40 students remaining on campus amid the coronavirus outbreak were moved Thursday to a nearby hotel until campus services can be restored.

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