Deadly Storms Sweep Through Southeast U.S.

Apr 13, 2020
Originally published on April 13, 2020 8:31 pm
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MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

To other stories now - deadly tornadoes have ripped through the South over the past 36 hours. The outbreak is blamed for at least 30 deaths in five states. The damage stretches from Texas into the Carolinas and has left more than a million customers without power. NPR's Debbie Elliott reports.

DEBBIE ELLIOTT, BYLINE: In declaring a state of emergency Sunday night, Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves said this is not how anyone wants to celebrate Easter Sunday. Today the news was bleak. Reeves says the state separate at least 11 deaths and multiple injuries in a rash of a dozen or more tornadoes that ripped through 30 counties.

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TATE REEVES: This storm was as bad or worse than anything we've seen in a decade. We are used to tornadoes in Mississippi. No one is used to this. Winds topped 200 miles an hour in certain locations. The trail was long, and the trail was devastating.

ELLIOTT: Reeves says a natural disaster hitting amid the coronavirus pandemic is a blow. Other weather-related deaths are reported in Georgia, Arkansas and the Carolinas. Displaced people huddling in shelters are wearing masks to prevent the spread of COVID-19. In some places, hotels are working with the Red Cross to offer temporary shelter. Social media images show overturned cars, demolished structures and one house completely blown off its foundation and planted in the middle of a road. Dana Bumgardner with the Jones County Volunteer Fire Council (ph) in south Mississippi says search and rescue is still underway.

DANA BUMGARDNER: We have had roughly 70 calls for assistance, whether that be emergency medical assistance. Several of those calls are just trapped in their home and can't get out.

ELLIOTT: The storm started Saturday in Texas and swept through the Southeast. Bill Bunting with the National Weather Service Storm Prediction Center says there were more than 60 eyewitnessed tornado sightings Sunday alone.

BILL BUNTING: This is a three-day onslaught of severe thunderstorms and tornadoes, the likes of which we see perhaps only one or two times a year, some years not at all.

ELLIOTT: Bunting says it will take a few days to determine the full extent of the damage and the power of the tornadoes.

Debbie Elliott, NPR News.

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