Joshua Boston

Joshua Boston

Storms, tornadoes tear through South

A dangerous storm system that spawned a chain of deadly tornadoes over three days flattened homes and businesses, forced frightened residents in more than half a dozen states to take cover and left tens of thousands in the dark Tuesday.

LOUISVILLE, Miss. — A dangerous storm system that spawned a chain of deadly tornadoes over three days flattened homes and businesses, forced frightened residents in more than half a dozen states to take cover and left tens of thousands in the dark Tuesday.

As the storm hopscotched across a large swath of the U.S., the overall death toll was more than 30, killed Monday and Sunday in a band stretching from Oklahoma to Alabama. Forecasts showed the storm continuing to threaten residents in the Deep South Tuesday afternoon and evening, with another round of howling winds, pounding rain, flash flooding and tornado conditions possible.

Some awoke Tuesday to find their loved ones missing and their homes pulverized. In Louisville, a hardscrabble logging town hit by one of the storm’s twisters, firefighters picked through the remains of mobile homes, and twenty of them linked hands to wade through debris. Rescue workers stepped gingerly over downed power lines and trees that were snapped in half and stripped of branches.

With water and roof damage, the small local hospital’s emergency room was evacuated Monday.

“We thought we were going to be OK, then a guy came in and said, ’It’s here right now,”’ said Dr. Michael Henry, head of the ER. “Then boom … it blew through.”

Just east of the hospital, a woman died at the daycare centre she’d run for seven years, according to the county coroner. One seriously injured child was evacuated from the centre, said state Rep. Michael Evans, D-Louisville, who is acting as a liaison for the county. The child’s condition was not known Tuesday. Evans said authorities don’t think any other children were in the centre during the storm.

“No other parents have shown up to say, ’My child was at the daycare.’ That’s why we think the day care is fine,” Evans said.

In Tupelo, crews turned from search-and-rescue efforts to cleanup in parts of the northeastern Mississippi community Tuesday. The buzzing sound of chain saws cut through the otherwise still, hazy morning. Massive oak trees, knocked over like children’s toys, blocked some roads.

Neighbours helped one other cut away limbs. Residents, taken aback by the damage, said they prayed that more storms wouldn’t hit the city later Tuesday.

Pam Montgomery, 54, walked with her grey Scottish terrier, Ava, in the parking lot of St. Luke’s United Methodist church in her neighbourhood. “This does not even look like a place that I’m familiar with right now,” Montgomery said. “You look down some of the streets and it doesn’t even look like there is a street.”

Abby Tucker, 27, described the feeling as surreal.

“You see this in movies,” she said. “You don’t see it in your own backyard.”

In Kimberly, Ala., about 20 miles north of Birmingham, a suspected tornado hit at a crossroads before midnight Monday, tearing the A-shaped roof off the town’s Church of God. On Tuesday morning, the roof sat in a solid piece beside the red brick church.

Across the street, the cinderblock walls from an old fishing supply store were scattered around the gravel parking lot. The building’s metal frame remained. Down the road, the fire department was flattened.

Tim Armstrong picked up pieces of splintered trees in his backyard. Armstrong, his wife and their two young daughters were home when the storm struck. He said they were listening to weather reports on television and heard an all-clear for their area.

“Three minutes later my mother-in-law calls, says there’s a tornado in Morris,” a nearby town, Armstrong said. “The power went out, and we went running to the middle of the house.”

They heard the wind roaring and glass shattering as a tree flew through their front door. “Once I heard that, I knew something was pretty wrong. It was fast. It was so fast.”

The whole thing was over a minute later, he said.

In northern Alabama, the coroner’s office confirmed two deaths in a twister that caused extensive damage west of the city of Athens, Limestone County Emergency Director Rita White. In Tuscaloosa, officials said a University of Alabama student died when he took shelter in the basement of a home near campus and a retaining wall collapsed on him.

The threat of dangerous weather jangled nerves a day after the third anniversary of a historic outbreak of more than 60 tornadoes that killed more than 250 people across Alabama on April 27, 2011.

Separately, Limestone Commissioner Bill Latimer said he received reports of four deaths in the county from one of his workers. Neither the governor’s office nor state emergency officials could immediately confirm those deaths.

In southern Tennessee, two people were killed in a home when a suspected tornado hit Monday night, Lincoln County Emergency Management Director Mike Hall said. The winds destroyed several other homes as well as a middle school in the county that borders Alabama, Hall said.

The storm system is the latest onslaught of severe weather a day after a half-mile-wide tornado carved an 80-mile path of destruction through the suburbs of Little Rock, Ark., killing at least 15. Tornadoes or severe storms also killed one person each in Oklahoma and Iowa on Sunday.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Rocky Mountain House RCMP are investigating a fatal collision involving a pedestrian on Feb. 27. (File photo by Advocate staff)
Rocky Mountain House RCMP investigate fatal pedestrian collision

Collision occured west of Rocky on Highway 11A

A cross-country skier glides along the banks of the Ottawa River in Ottawa on Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021. Canadians across the country can look forward to a mild spring peppered with the odd winter flashback throughout the first part of the season, according to predictions from one prominent national forecaster. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Mild spring with some wintry blasts predicted for most of Canada: Weather Network

March will be dramatically warmer through the prairies

Bharat Masrani, CEO, TD Bank Group speaks at the Economic Club of Canada in Toronto on Wednesday, November 1, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Five things to watch for in the Canadian business world in the coming week

Shares in metals and mining companies have rebounded sharply

A worker carrying a disinfectant sprayer walks past a WestJet Airlines Boeing 737-800 aircraft, after cleaning another plane at Vancouver International Airport, in Richmond, B.C., on Thursday, January 21, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
WestJet to lay off undisclosed number of pilots amid labour negotiations

Layoff notices to go out ahead of the expiration of a memorandum of agreement

A dose of COVID-19 vaccine is prepared at a vaccination clinic in Montreal’s Olympic Stadium on Tuesday, February 23, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
Feds hoping for AstraZeneca shots this week as Pfizer-BioNTech prepare next delivery

Canada has ordered 24 million doses of AstraZeneca vaccine

Red Deer dogs Bunsen and Beaker helped save a missing pet recently. The two dogs have more than 80,000 followers on Twitter. (Contributed photo)
WATCH: Red Deer science dogs help save lost pet

Red Deer science-communicating dogs Bunsen and Beaker helped rescue a missing pet… Continue reading

A ” Justice for Jeff” T-shirt. (Photo submitted)
Rally to be held outside Red Deer courthouse for slain Ponoka man

Sentencing for accused charged with manslaughter with a firearm set for March 4

Team Canada skip Kerri Einarson makes a shot against Team Alberta as second Shannon Birchard, right, and lead Briane Meilleur sweep in the semi-final at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts in Calgary, Alta., Sunday, Feb. 28, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Kerri Einarson wins second straight Canadian women’s curling championship

Einarson and her teammates celebrated Sunday in the silence in an empty arena

Amy Poehler and Tina Fey hosted the Golden Globes on Feb. 28, 2021. (Photo by THE ASSOCIATED PRESS)
With loved ones and pets, Globes winners embrace cozier show

Nicole Kidman and musician-husband Keith Urban got glammed up to sit on their couch

The cast of “Schitt’s Creek” pose for a photo after winning the Award for Best Comedy Series at the Canadian Screen Awards in Toronto on March 31, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young
Schitt’s Creek nabs two Golden Globes for its final season

Catherine O’Hara named best television actress in a musical or comedy

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney speaks during a news conference in Edmonton on Feb. 24, 2020. It’s budget day in the province, and Kenney’s United Conservative government is promising more help in the fight against COVID, but more red ink on the bottom line. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Alberta Premier slams vandalism after slur painted on MLA’s office window

EDMONTON — Alberta Premier Jason Kenney is condemning alleged vandalism at the… Continue reading

Canada Pension Plan Investment Board President and Chief Executive Officer Mark Machin waits to appear at the Standing Committee on Finance on Parliament Hill, in Ottawa on Tuesday, November 1, 2016. Executives who engage in so-called "vaccine tourism" show both an ethical disregard for those less fortunate and a surprising lack of business acumen, experts argue. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Vaccine tourism is both unethical and bad for business, experts say

Executives who engage in so-called “vaccine tourism” show both an ethical disregard… Continue reading

Edmonton Oilers' Jesse Puljujarvi (13) and Toronto Maple Leafs' Justin Holl (3) battle in front as goalie Jack Campbell (36) makes the save during second period NHL action in Edmonton on Saturday, February 27, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
No Matthews, no problem: Minus NHL goal leader, Maple Leafs blank Oilers 4-0

Leafs 4 Oilers 0 EDMONTON — The Maple Leafs knew even with… Continue reading

Leader of the Government in the House of Commons Pablo Rodriguez rises during Question Period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Friday, Nov. 20, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
Gummed-up bills in House of Commons: harbinger of a federal election?

OTTAWA — All federal party leaders maintain they don’t want an election… Continue reading

Most Read