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Saturday 21 April 2018

Five deaths after severe storms and flooding hit central US

Bodies have been recovered after homes were flattened by the weather system, which stretched from Texas to the Canadian Maritime provinces.

Kim Nicholson sifts through the debris of her home in Clarksville (AP)
Kim Nicholson sifts through the debris of her home in Clarksville (AP)

By John Raby

At least five people have died after severe thunderstorms swept through the central United States, spawning a tornado that flattened homes as well as gale force winds and widespread flooding stretching from the Upper Midwest to Appalachia.

The weather system that stretched from Texas to the Canadian Maritime provinces had prompted several emergency declarations even before the storms arrived.

In south-western Michigan, the body of a man was found floating in floodwaters in Kalamazoo.

Officials said the death did not appear to be suspicious and that authorities were trying to determine the man’s identity and cause of death. Kalamazoo was hard hit by flooding from last week’s heavy rains and melting snow.

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A teddy bear lies among the debris in Tennessee (AP)

In Kentucky, authorities said three people died. Two bodies were recovered from submerged vehicles in separate incidents on Saturday.

A body was recovered from a vehicle that was in a ditch in in western Kentucky near Morganfield, the Henderson Fire Department said. Tests will be carried out on the body.

Meanwhile, a male’s body was pulled from a vehicle in a creek near the south central Kentucky community of Franklin on Saturday, the Simpson County Sheriff’s Office said. The victim’s identify is being withheld pending notification of relatives.

About 20 miles away, Dallas Jane Combs, 79, died after a suspected tornado destroyed her Adairville home earlier on Saturday, the Logan County Sheriff’s Office told media outlets. Officials said Ms Combs was inside the home when it collapsed on her. She was pronounced dead at the scene, while her husband suffered minor injuries.

The fifth death was in north-east Arkansas, where an 83-year-old man was killed after high winds toppled a trailer home. Clay County Sheriff Terry Miller told KAIT-TV that Albert Foster died on Saturday night after the home was blown into a pond.

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View looking north to Cincinnati as flood waters rise toward the intersection of Riverside Drive and Garrard Street (AP)

About 50 miles away, the National Weather Service said the roof was blown off a hotel in Osceola, about 160 miles north of Memphis, Tennessee.

In Middle Tennessee, the National Weather Service on Sunday confirmed an EF-2 tornado with maximum winds of 120mph hit Clarksville on Saturday.

Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Sandra Brandon said at least four homes were destroyed and dozens of others were damaged, while 75 cars at a tyre plant car park had their windows blown out or were tossed onto one other.

At Austin Peay State University in Clarksville, a teenage girl was hit by falling debris at a college basketball game after an apparent lightning strike knocked a hole in the arena’s roof Saturday night. School director of marketing and digital media Kevin Young said the 15-year-old girl was taken to a hospital as a precaution.

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