Severe Weather, tornadoes kill 45 Across South

  1. We had some crazy storms last night in Northern Indiana....didn't know it got that bad south of us!!!! I hope all of our Southern PFers are OK!!!!

    ornadoes that roared through parts of Arkansas, Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama and Mississippi killed at least 45 people and injured more than 100 others Tuesday night and early Wednesday, authorities said.

    Union University staff and students search through dormitories destroyed by a tornado in Tennessee.
    1 of 2more photos »

    The storms prompted the early closures of polling places and damaged a university, a shopping mall, a retirement home and a hospital.

    Tornadoes trapped people in damaged buildings.

    One ignited a fire that sent flames shooting hundreds of feet into the night sky. Watch flames leap hundreds of feet »

    Authorities in Tennessee received reports of 24 deaths in their state from the storms that tore through the mid-south Wednesday morning.

    Authorities in Kentucky received reports early Wednesday of four more deaths in their state from the storms.

    The new fatalities bring the total in Kentucky to 7.

    The new deaths in Kentucky were reported in Allen County in the southcentral part of the state.

    Earlier, storms ripped through western Kentucky, killing at least three people at a mobile home park in Muhlenberg County, emergency management officials said. A state of emergency has been declared in the county and Kentucky National Guard troops have been deployed, state emergency spokesman Buddy Rogers said.

    The number killed in Alabama could rise as searchers comb through more damaged homes, said Lawrence County Emergency Management Director Hillard Frost.

    In Arkansas, "rescue crews are going to go all night long," said Matt DeCample, a spokesman for the governor. "Until daylight comes, we're really not going to know the scope of things."

    The storm was blamed for 13 deaths in four counties in Arkansas, according to the state's emergency management agency.

    In Atkins, Arkansas, the storm killed a man, woman and child in the same family, Pope County Judge Jim Ed Gibson said.

    Five other people were transferred to local hospitals. Emergency officials reported a fourth death in Pope County, where Atkins is located.

    Gibson said there was widespread damage across the county and that trucks and vehicles were overturned by the storm along Interstate 40. The interstate was briefly closed, he said, but had since reopened.

    About 30 National Guardsmen will help with the recovery effort in Atkins on Wednesday morning, DeCample said.

    The other fatalities in Arkansas were in Izard County, where three died; in Van Buren and Conway counties, which had two fatalities each; and in Stone and Baxter counties, each of which had one death.

    In Tennessee, the tornado trapped college students and retirees in collapsed buildings and retirement-home communities, said Julie Oaks, a spokeswoman for the state's emergency management agency. Watch students describe tornado hitting dorm »

    In Memphis, a tornado swept through the southeastern section of the city, killing three people and injuring a dozen others, according to emergency management officials. All three died when part of a warehouse collapsed on them. At least eight others were injured across the county.

    Also hit in the storm was the Hickory Ridge Mall, said Shelby County, Tennessee, Emergency Preparedness Director Bob Nations Jr. See I-Reporter's photos of devastation at mall »

    There were no significant injuries, he said, but added, "The mall infrastructure is heavily damaged." Watch a man relive what happened when he had no time to hide from the tornado »

    Two people were found dead outside a house that had been blown away by the storm in Castilian Springs in Sumner County, Tennessee, said Jay Austin, the county's primary death investigator.

    Elsewhere in the area, a mother was found dead in a creek bed about 50 yards from where her house stood, Austin said. Her infant child was found alive, 250 yards away. The baby was taken to a local hospital, Austin said.

    Altogether, the storms claimed five lives in Sumner County, bringing the death toll in Tennessee to 24.

    One person was killed in Madison County, Oaks said. Two others died in Hardin County, according to the local emergency management agency.

    At least 50 people were stuck in rubble after the storm caused damage to the Jackson Oaks Retirement Home, Oaks said. Nine students were trapped in a damaged dormitory at Union University in Jackson, she said.

    But the Union University campus was perhaps hardest hit -- classes have been canceled for two weeks. "It looks like a war zone," said David Dockery, university president. "Cars and trucks thrown from one side of the campus to the other."

    Dockery said the women's dorms were destroyed, along with two academic buildings. Many other school buildings received lesser damage.

    Advance warning of the storm saved lives, he said, giving students enough time to move to shelters. At one point, 13 were trapped, but there were no severe injuries.

    About 3,300 students attend the school with 1,200 living on campus.

    Company officials believe a tornado hit a compressor station for the Columbia Gulf Transmission company in Hartsville, Tennessee, northeast of Nashville, setting off a spectacular natural gas fire.

    The station boosts the pressure of natural gas that is piped through the station and on to mid-Atlantic and northeastern states, he said.

    "It looks like a tornado touched down ... went through our compressor station yard," Columbia spokesman Kelly Merritt said, tearing away engines used to push the gas through the pipeline.

    The blaze could be seen in the night sky for miles around, with flames shooting "400, 500 feet in the air," said Tennessee Emergency Management spokesman Donnie Smith.

    The station was damaged significantly but there were no reports of injuries or fatalities, said Merritt. "We would not have had any employees there [overnight]," Merritt said.

    The blaze was put out early Wednesday morning, according to Merritt.

    Near the facility, a tornado flattened the home of Dara Reasonover.

    "It just took the house and everything and my horses and my dog," a shaken Reasonover said as the glow of the fire lit the sky behind her. "I don't know if they're alive or dead, but we'll make it."

    The National Weather Service said the roof was ripped off a hangar at Memphis International Airport. FedEx, which is based in Memphis, reported damage to a portion of a roof on a firehouse, but said its daily flights were not affected. E-mail to a friend
  2. We really got nailed here. Luckily it was all east of me, but tornadoes are just a part of life here. It's very sad how many people live in mobile homes. They're always the ones who die in the storms.
  3. I lived in tornado alley for years. My parents were photographers & I remember dearly their obsession with photographing tornados.
    I don't ever remember tornados in early Feb.
    Isn't the season suppose to start in April?
    I just read 45 died! These must of not been expected.
    Sorry for those dealing with the aftermath.
  4. Last night was super scary in Arkansas, we lost 13 people (so far, some are still unaccounted for). Tornadoes aren't completely uncommon around here this time of year, we have had killer tornadoes in December and January around here.

    My thoughts and prayers go out to all of those who were affected by last nights terrible storms.
  5. Gosh, I hadn't seen this report until now, very sad for all of the residents of those states. We had tornadoes just south of me in IL, but I think we mostly escaped with tons of rain, and now snow. The weather's been nuts this week! My thoughts will be with the people trying to pick up after the tornadoes.
  6. So sad and scary! My boyfriend is an insurance adjuster and is currently working for a short time in Missouri. They had some tornado warnings but luckily they were missed and only had thunderstorms.

    Looks like the count is up to 48 dead now. :sad:
  7. A bunch touched down all around me, but luckily everyone I know is okay.
  8. I feel so bad for all of these people. I am in S.C. and we were lucky. I hope all the other TPF members are ok. You just really don't expect them this time of the year, but the last few days were warm. Yesterday if was almost 80, so I guess in a way I am not too shocked. It's just awfull.
  9. My thoughts go out to all those families affected by these horrific storms.
  10. OMG hugs and prayers to all affected! So scary.
  11. My prayers go out to anyone and everyone affected by this. Stay safe!