Severe storms spawning multiple tornadoes moved across the South on Monday, damaging homes and uprooting trees from Mississippi to West Virginia. A tornado spotted in Atlanta forced thousands to seek shelter, and one man was killed when a falling tree brought power lines onto his vehicle.
The motorist was pronounced dead after fire crews cut him from the vehicle in Douglasville, Georgia, west of Atlanta, Douglas County spokesman Rick Martin told reporters. And in middle Georgia, 55-year-old Carla Harris was killed after a tree fell onto her Bonaire home, Houston County emergency officials said.
The weather first turned rough in Mississippi on Sunday, where just south of Yazoo City, Vickie Savell was left with only scraps of the brand-new mobile home where she and her husband had moved in just eight days ago. It had been lifted off its foundation and moved about 25 feet (8 meters). It was completely destroyed.
“Oh my God, my first new house in 40 years and it's gone," she said Monday, amid tree tops strewn about the neighborhood and the roar of chainsaws as people worked to clear roads.
Savell had been away from home, attending church, but her husband Nathan had been driving home and hunkered down in the front of his truck as the home nearby was destroyed. From there, he watched his new home blow past him, he said.
Nearby, Garry McGinty recalled being at home listening to birds chirping — then dead silence. He looked outside and saw a dark, ominous cloud and took shelter in a hallway, he said. He survived, but trees slammed into his carport, two vehicles and the side of his house.
A line of severe storms rolled through the state Sunday afternoon and into the nighttime hours. Late Sunday, a “tornado emergency” was declared for Tupelo and surrounding areas.
Photos retweeted by the National Weather Service in Memphis showed several downed trees and power lines. Tupelo Middle School sustained some damage, as well as houses and businesses.