Four dead as severe storm sweeps through southern US
BENTON, La. (AP) — Authorities say at least four people have died as severe storms sweep across parts of the U.S. South, bringing high winds and unrelenting rain.
The Bossier Parish Sheriff's Office in Louisiana said on Facebook that the bodies of an elderly couple were found Saturday near their demolished trailer by firefighters. A search for more possible victims was underway. That brings the storm-related death toll in the state to three after a man was killed when a tree fell on his home in Caddo Parish. The Sheriff's Office also said the roof of Benton Middle School was damaged and “that water damage from the sprinkler system has flooded many rooms.”
Arkansas, Oklahoma and Texas on Saturday morning were clear of the severe thunderstorms that had passed through the night before. One person died Friday night in Texas when a car flipped into a creek in Dallas. Additionally, lightning from Friday's stormy weather is suspected of causing two house fires in the North Texas cities of Burleson and Mansfield. Officials said no one was injured.
The National Weather Service issued a tornado warning for Mississippi early Saturday. Homes were damaged or destroyed in Missouri, Oklahoma and Arkansas on Friday, but no injuries were reported. Downed trees and power lines were widespread.
According to PowerOutage.us, Louisiana and Mississippi had more than 54,000 power outages. Entergy Arkansas reported nearly 42,000 power outages Saturday morning, mostly in the southeastern part of the state. Southwestern Electric Power Co. reported nearly 5,000 customers in East Texas were without power Saturday morning.
The Oklahoma Department of Transportation reported Saturday morning that portions of several highways in the southeastern part of the state were closed due to flooding. The Arkansas Department of Transportation reported that portions of several state highways across the state, particularly in the southeastern portion of Arkansas were closed due to downed trees and power lines and to flooding.
On Alabama's Gulf Coast, Baldwin County canceled school activities including sporting events for Saturday. The weather service warned of flooding and the potential for 10-foot-high (3-meter-high) waves on beaches, where northern visitors escaping the cold are a common sight during the winter.
Many streams already are at or near flood levels because of earlier storms, and heavy rains could lead to flash flooding across the region, forecasters said. Parts of Arkansas, Tennessee, Mississippi, Missouri, Illinois and Indiana were under flash flood warnings or watches on Saturday.
AP writer Juan A. Lozano contributed to this report from Houston.