Wednesday 23 August 2017

At least 13 dead as severe storms roll across US

An overturned vehicle rests on the ground surrounded by debris in Canton, Texas, Sunday, April 30, 2017 after tornadoes hit the area the previous night (Sarah A. Miller/Tyler Morning Telegraph)
An overturned vehicle rests on the ground surrounded by debris in Canton, Texas, Sunday, April 30, 2017 after tornadoes hit the area the previous night (Sarah A. Miller/Tyler Morning Telegraph)
Independent.ie Newsdesk

At least 13 people have been killed in severe storms rolling across the US.

Tornadoes hit several small towns in East Texas, killing four people. Three people were killed by flooding and winds in Arkansas, with officials saying two more people are missing. Rushing water swept away a car, drowning a woman in Missouri; and a death was reported in Sunday morning storms that raked Mississippi.

An Arkansas volunteer fire department chief was killed while working during storms in north-central Arkansas, state police said.

Cove Creek/Pearson Fire Chief Doug Decker died shortly before 4am on Sunday after being struck by a vehicle while checking water levels near Quitman, about 40 miles north of Little Rock, Trooper Liz Chapman said. His death will be included as a storm-related death.

A two-year-old girl in Tennessee died after being struck by a heavy, metal football goal post that was blown over by high winds, The Metro Nashville Police Department posted on its Twitter page.

Melanie Espinoza Rodriguez was transported to a local hospital where she was pronounced dead, according to a second post from the department.

Jamesha Merritt clings onto a flooded vehicle in Raleigh, N.C., Tuesday, April 25, 2017 (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)
Jamesha Merritt clings onto a flooded vehicle in Raleigh, N.C., Tuesday, April 25, 2017 (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)

Middle Tennessee was hit by a strong line of storms that knocked down trees and power lines earlier on Sunday.

Rescuers in north-west Arkansas continued to look for an 18-month-old girl and a four-year-old boy who were in a vehicle swept off a bridge by flood waters in Hindsville, the Madison County Sheriff's Office said.

In north-west Arkansas, a 10-year-old girl drowned in Springdale and the body of a woman who disappeared riding an inner tube on Saturday was found in a creek in Eureka Springs. Also, a 65-year-old woman in DeWitt in the eastern part of the state was struck and killed in her home by a falling tree, officials said.

In Texas, search teams were going door to door after the tornadoes the day before flattened homes, uprooted trees and flipped several pick-up trucks at a Dodge dealership in Canton.

Cars and trucks are damaged as the walls blew out of the I-20 Dodge dealership after a tornado hit near Canton, Texas, Saturday, April 29, 2017 (Tom Fox/The Dallas Morning News via AP)
Cars and trucks are damaged as the walls blew out of the I-20 Dodge dealership after a tornado hit near Canton, Texas, Saturday, April 29, 2017 (Tom Fox/The Dallas Morning News via AP)

"It is heartbreaking and upsetting to say the least," Canton mayor Lou Ann Everett told reporters at a news conference.

The storms cut a path of destruction 35 miles long and 15 miles wide in Van Zandt County, Ms Everett said. The largely rural area is about 50 miles east of Dallas.

The National Weather Service found evidence of four tornadoes with one twister possibly on the ground for 50 miles.

The first reports of tornadoes came about 4.45pm on Saturday, but emergency crews were hampered by continuing severe weather, said Judge Don Kirkpatrick, the chief executive for Van Zandt County.

"We'd be out there working and get a report of another tornado on the ground," he said.

The storms rolled through Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama on Sunday with strong winds causing isolated pockets of damage. In Durant in central Mississippi one person died in the storms.

Jamesha Merritt exits a flooded vehicle in Raleigh, N.C., Tuesday, April 25, 2017 (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)
Jamesha Merritt exits a flooded vehicle in Raleigh, N.C., Tuesday, April 25, 2017 (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)

Later the agency reported the death of a child from Rankin County, 20 miles east of Jackson, who died from electric shock in flood waters. The Rankin County Sherriff's Department reported that a seven-year-old boy had unplugged an electric golf cart and dropped the cord in water on the ground and was shocked.

Alexa Haik went to bed on Saturday night expecting just rain, but heard the sirens on Sunday morning and turned on the television to see the tornado warning. She rounded up her pets and hid in a hallway with her family, then was stunned to emerge to trees down all in her neighbourhood in Clinton, Mississippi, about 20 miles west of Jackson.

A trip up the road showed how isolated the worst of the storms were. "I really thought when we got out of our neighbourhood, there would be damage everywhere. But our little subdivision was the only one hit," Ms Haik said.

Near Clever in south-western Missouri, a man tried to save his 72-year-old wife from flood waters that swept away their vehicle Saturday, but her body was found when the water receded, the Missouri State Highway Patrol said.

A second death from weekend flooding was announced on Sunday by Missouri governor Eric Greitens but he did not release any details about the victim or the circumstances of the death.

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