Death Toll in Storms Sweeping South Increases to 5

By BILL FULLER and REBECCA YONKER,  Associated Press

Possible tornadoes swept through parts of Alabama and Tennessee overnight, killing five people and injuring more than a dozen as heavy rains from storms moving across the South produced flooding in areas previously suffering from months of drought.

Possible tornadoes were reported across several counties in northern Alabama and southern Tennessee, National Weather Service meteorologist Lauren Nash said.

Three people were killed and one person was critically injured in a mobile home in the small northern Alabama town of Rosalie when an apparent tornado hit about midnight Tuesday, said Jackson County Chief Deputy Rocky Harnen. The same possible tornado hit a closed day care center in the Ider community, injuring seven people, including three children, who had left their mobile home to seek shelter there, said Anthony Clifton, DeKalb County Emergency Management Director.

Authorities said dozens of buildings had been damaged or destroyed in the state.

In southern Tennessee, an apparent tornado also was responsible for the death of a husband and wife in Polk County, while an unknown number of others were injured, said Tennessee Emergency Management Agency spokesman Dean Flener. No further details were immediately available.

The storms tore through just as firefighters began to get raging wildfires in Gatlinburg, Tennessee, under control after they wiped out hundreds of buildings, including homes, and in Alabama dumped more than 2 inches of rain in areas that had been parched by months of drought.

Tornadoes and hail were also reported Tuesday in Louisiana and Mississippi. In Mississippi, the National Weather Service in Jackson said late Tuesday that it had counted six confirmed tornadoes so far in the areas of the state it monitors.

The Storm Forecast Center in Norman, Oklahoma, issued a tornado watch from southeast Louisiana to northwest Georgia as a line of severe storm moved southeast Wednesday morning.

National Weather Service offices in Louisiana and Alabama planned to send personnel out Wednesday to check on possible tornados that occurred late Tuesday night and Wednesday morning.

___

Associated Press writers Bernard McGhee in Atlanta and Jay Reeves in Birmingham, Alabama, contributed to this report.

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