3 killed as dozens of tornadoes wreak havoc across US Deep South

17 December 2019, 06:29

Damage from a tornado to the TrimLine building on John Allison Drive in Alexandria, La.,
Damage from a tornado to the TrimLine building on John Allison Drive in Alexandria, La.,. Picture: PA
EJ Ward

By EJ Ward

Dozens of tornadoes have wreaked havoc across the US Deep South leaving three dead and dozens injured, officials said.

Three people are dead and dozens others injured as suspected tornadoes leave destruction in their wake after battering parts of the US Deep South.

Most of the tornadoes were reported in Mississippi, with several striking Louisiana, the National Weather Service said

Homes have been left destroyed and infrastructure damaged after tornado strikes, one person was skilled at their home in Louisiana.

Another tornado smashed into Town Creek, Alabama, with the area's police chief Jerry Garrett saying two people were killed and at least four others injured when the winds destroyed houses and mobile homes.

Dozens of tornadoes hit the Deep South just a week before Christmas
Dozens of tornadoes hit the Deep South just a week before Christmas. Picture: PA

The storms triggered multiple tornado watches and warnings over a span of several hours. Elsewhere, some cities opened shelters as a cold front collided with warmer air over northern Gulf Coast states and temperatures were expected to plunge.

In Vernon Parish, Louisiana, the storm killed 59-year-old Betty Patin, the Vernon Parish Sheriff's Department said in a Facebook post.

Mrs Patin was in her mobile home which was destroyed in the tornado. Several churches in Vernon Parish were also damaged.

A man stands outside what is left of a gas station and convenience store in Alexandria, La.,
A man stands outside what is left of a gas station and convenience store in Alexandria, La.,. Picture: PA

Chief Deputy Calvin Turner said authorities feared others could be hurt in the area since crews were still trying to reach hard-hit areas where downed trees and power lines blocked roads.

"We've got damage at lots of places. We've got a church where the fellowship hall is torn all to pieces. Some homes are hit. Right now we're having trouble just getting to places because of trees that are down," he said.

Wade Bourgeois, spokesman for the Alexandria Police Department said his community in Alexandria, Louisiana, about 200 miles north-west of New Orleans saw children moved to a church just before the winds ripped the roof off their school.

"Fortunately we have no reports of any deaths or serious injuries," he said of the Alexandria area.

Mr Bourgeois said some mobile homes and a few houses were damaged. Downed power lines left people stuck in homes or other buildings until rescuers could reach them, he said.

"They weren't pinned or dangerously trapped."

Jason Ford stands in his damaged mobile home on Highway 567, north of Liberty, Miss
Jason Ford stands in his damaged mobile home on Highway 567, north of Liberty, Miss. Picture: PA

Meteorologist Donald Jones of the National Weather Service office in Lake Charles said it appeared the twister that hit part of Alexandria also struck near the town of DeRidder on an "absolutely ridiculous" path estimated at 63 miles long.

"I don't know what our records for the longest total in this area is, but that's got to be pretty damn close to it," he said.

Three people were injured, at least one of them very seriously, by an apparent tornado that hit Amite County, Mississippi, on Monday afternoon, county emergency director Grant McCurley said.

"We've got multiple houses with severe damage and a few houses that are completely destroyed," he said.

About 20,000 homes and businesses were without power in Louisiana and Mississippi, and outages could spread as storms moved eastward.

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