- At least 7 people were killed in Mississippi.
- More than 580,000 homes and businesses were without power.
- ‘This is not how anyone wants to celebrate Easter Sunday.’
- There were at least 34 reports of tornadoes.
At least seven people are dead in Mississippi as severe weather and strong tornadoes moved across the South on Easter Sunday and into Monday, destroying homes and businesses in at least four states and leaving hundreds of thousands without power.
There were at least 34 reports of tornadoes as the storms slashed a deadly and destructive path.
One person died in Jones County, Mississippi, where a tornado caused significant damage Sunday evening, Rodney Parker, the county’s deputy emergency management director, told weather.com.
The Mississippi Emergency Management Agency confirmed three fatalities in Jefferson Davis County, where a tornado struck the down of Bassfield. There was also one death in Walthall County and two fatalities in Lawrence County.
Tornadoes were reported in both those counties as well. At least five homes were destroyed in Walthall County and other injuries were reported.
All three counties are south of Jackson, near the Louisiana state line.
(MORE: The Latest Forecast for Severe Weather in the South)
In Tennessee, the Chattanooga Fire Department was responding to numerous weather-related calls, including damaged buildings and downed trees and power lines, after a tornado was reported east of the city late Sunday night.
A reported tornado also damaged and destroyed homes and other buildings earlier Sunday evening in Chattooga County, Georgia. Some people were trapped inside mobile homes in Pennville, WSB-TV reported. Damage was also reported in Carbon Hill, Alabama.
More than 580,000 homes and businesses were without power in eight states as of 12:04 EDT Monday, according to PowerOutage.us. Outages were the most significant in Texas, Arkansas, Alabama and Kentucky. High winds were responsible for outages in many areas not affected by tornadoes.
Earlier, rescue crews were searching homes in Jones County, where damage was reported to multiple homes and commercial buildings in the town of Laurel and other parts of the county. Paul Sheffield, the county’s emergency management director, told weather.com in a phone interview that several people were injured, some seriously.
Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves declared a state of emergency Sunday night.
“This is not how anyone wants to celebrate Easter Sunday,” Reeves said.
Two long-track tornadoes followed similar paths across parts of the state.
Photos showed the damage and severe weather in the Jones County town of Soso, where one resident told CNN she rode out the storm at the volunteer fire station, which sustained damage.
“All I had was my arms to put over my son and mother-in-law,” Candice Pitts said. “Was near a solid glass door that blew out and the roof in many places tore off or collapsed. My car was park(ed) under a shed that is now blown over in a yard nearby. It’s mangled.”
Earlier, damaging storms and possible tornadoes destroyed homes and businesses, toppled trees and knocked out electricity across several areas of Louisiana as a widespread outbreak of severe storms swept across the South.
About 300 homes were damaged or destroyed in Monroe, Louisiana, police Sgt. Chuck Johnson told The Weather Channel. The city was working to secure about 200 hotel rooms to shelter families who were displaced. They were trying to avoid housing large numbers of people in one place due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Social distancing posed challenges for emergency officials as they opened shelters during the storm and considered where to house those affected after. Many handed out masks and gloves at storm shelters, while others decided not to open at all.
Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards declared a state of emergency.
“The images and reports of major tornado damage in the Monroe area are heartbreaking, and my prayers are with the people there. We are in contact with local officials in the area to provide support,” the governor said on Twitter.
There were no immediate reports of major injuries.
“Pray for our city! Many neighbors & friends suffered catastrophic damage,” Monroe Mayor Jamie Mayo said on Twitter. “We are hurting; but not broken.”
(WATCH: Bird’s Eye View of Tornado Damage in North Louisiana)
The National Weather Service declared a tornado emergency for Monroe in Ouachita Parish at 11:44 a.m. CDT. Doppler radar confirmed a large and destructive tornado was hitting parts of the city.
At least 20 homes were damaged in the Sunflower Subdivision of Monroe, according to a local media report to the National Weather Service.
A video on Facebook showed extensive damage. As a family walks out of a destroyed home, the video showed the front of the house had been ripped away and the living room and dining room were exposed to the rain.
The city of Monroe Twitter account said, “We have reports of wind (or tornado) damage in multiple locations in Monroe.” The city also posted photos of damage.
Images on social media showed several damaged planes and buildings ripped apart at Monroe Regional Airport.
Ron Phillips, director of the airport, said all flights were canceled until further notice. A hangar owned by AVFlight was heavily damaged, Phillips told the News Star, and he estimated there was $25 to $30 million worth of damage to the planes there.
Two semitractor-trailers reportedly blew over on Interstate 20 near U.S. Highway 165.
Across the Ouachita River in West Monroe, Mayor Staci Albritton Mitchell told the New Star that houses in her city “have been leveled.” She also said police safely rescued some people from their homes after they were trapped by falling trees.
About 45 miles west of Monroe, dozens of trees sheared off in the story blocked eastbound Interstate 20, according to KSLA.
The Shreveport Times said the NWS reported tornadoes in four parishes earlier Sunday: Lincoln, Bienville, DeSoto and Webster parishes.
A Twitter user posted images of damage in Kingston, Louisiana, which is in DeSoto Parish.
Mark Pierce, a spokesman for the Desoto Parish Sheriff’s Office, told weather.com that multiple trees and power lines were down in Kingston and surrounding areas, and a few mobile homes were hit. A large tree was blocking U.S. Highway 84 heading into Mansfield.
“We’ve had some pretty significant damage,” Pierce said.
He said the sheriff and road crews were still out assessing the impacts, but there had not been any reports of injuries.
This is breaking news and more information will be provided as it becomes available. Check back to weather.com for updates.
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