Five dead amid storm in US

7 February 2020, 13:14

A fire department’s water rescue team brings a couple and their three dogs to safety in Bristol, Tennessee
Winter Weather Tennessee Flooding. Picture: PA

Tornado watches and warnings were in effect from northern Florida up through North Carolina.

At least five people have died after a powerful storm hit the south-eastern United States.

Nearly 150,000 homes and businesses in the region were without power, with Florida bearing the brunt of the power outages with nearly 75,000, according to poweroutages.us.

The Carolinas, Georgia and Virginia also reported outages, and tornado watches and warnings were in effect on Thursday night from northern Florida up through North Carolina.

The National Weather Service advised that the storm system was strengthening in the mid-Atlantic region, bringing rain and snow, ice and high winds northward.

Fallen trees rest on a damaged postal truck at an apartment complex where a reported tornado passed through in Spartanburg, South Carolina
Fallen trees rest on a damaged postal van at an apartment complex where a reported tornado passed through in Spartanburg, South Carolina (Sean Rayford/AP)

Up to 8in (20cm) of snow was forecast on Friday in parts of West Virginia, where school was cancelled across more than half the state.

Wind gusts of up to 55mph were predicted from the nation’s capital up through New Jersey.

Dense fog was settling in over New York City and its suburbs.

The weather destroyed mobile homes in Mississippi and Alabama, caused mudslides in Tennessee and Kentucky and flooded communities that shoulder waterways across the Appalachian region.

Rain kept falling over a path of splintered trees and sagging power lines that stretched from Louisiana into Virginia.

School districts cancelled classes in state after state as bad weather rolled through.

Sheeting from a mobile home hangs in a tree in Pickens, Mississippi
Sheeting from a mobile home hangs in a tree in Pickens, Mississippi (Rogelio V Solis/AP)

Virginia governor Ralph Northam declared a state of emergency on Thursday evening because of heavy rains and extreme flooding.

More than 500 people in south-western Virginia were displaced by flooding and needed rescuing from their homes, he said.

Meanwhile, the Tennessee Valley Authority warned that people residing near rivers and lakes should prepare for rapidly changing water levels.

The TVA is managing rising water behind 49 dams to avert major flooding, but with more rain expected next week, the agency may have to release water downstream, said James Everett, senior manager of the TVA’s river forecast centre in Knoxville, Tennessee.

Authorities confirmed five storm-related fatalities, in Alabama, South Carolina, North Carolina and Tennessee.

Debris covers a car in Enterprise, Mississippi
A car covered by debrisin Enterprise, Mississippi (Paula Merritt/The Meridian Star via AP)

One person was killed and another was injured as high winds destroyed two mobile homes near the town of Demopolis, Alabama, the Storm Prediction Centre reported.

The victim, Anita Rembert, was in one of the homes with her husband, child and two grandchildren, said Kevin McKinney, emergency management director for Marengo County.

A man was injured but the children were unhurt, he said.

High winds there left roadsides strewn with plywood, insulation, broken trees and twisted metal.

The National Weather Service was checking the site for signs of a tornado.

Weather-related crashes left at least four people dead and numerous authorities pleaded with motorists to avoid driving where they could not see the pavement.

By Press Association

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