Deadly Easter Sunday storm rip through the Deep South

UPDATE: At least 30 dead after violent storms ravage Deep South  

At least 30 people were killed after a series of violent storms ripped across the Deep South.

Eleven people were killed in Mississippi, and eight more died in Georgia. Two other bodies were pulled from damaged homes in Arkansas and South Carolina.  

The storms blew onward through the night, causing flooding and mudslides in mountainous areas, and knocking out electricity for about 750,000 customers in a 10-state swath ranging from Texas to Georgia up to West Virginia, according to poweroutages.us.  

A suspected twister lifted a house, mostly intact, and deposited it in the middle of a road in central Georgia. In Louisiana, winds ripped apart a metal airplane hangar. 

In Alabama, where Gov. Kay Ivey suspended social distancing rules related to the coronavirus pandemic because of the weather threat, people wearing protective masks huddled in storm shelters.

Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves declared a state of emergency late Sunday in his state.

“This is not how anyone wants to celebrate Easter,” Reeves said on Twitter. “As we reflect on the death and resurrection on this Easter Sunday, we have faith that we will all rise together.”  

The Chattanooga, Tennessee, area and several counties in northwest Georgia appeared to be particularly hard-hit. Other parts of North Georgia saw heavy rain, damaging wind gusts and lightning for several hours overnight. More than 75,000 Georgia Power customers and an additional 89,000 Georgia EMC customers are beginning Monday morning in the dark.

At least 14 people were hospitalized in the Chattanooga area, where search and rescue teams from at least 10 fire departments were going door to door responding to more than 300 emergency calls for help, the fire department said. 

Mississippi’s death toll rose to 11 early Monday, according to the state’s emergency management agency. 

In Arkansas, one person was killed when a tree fell on a home in White Hall, about 35 miles southeast of Little Rock, the Jefferson County Department of Emergency Management said. Powerful winds from Sunday’s storms knocked out electricity to more than 125,000 homes and businesses in the state, and Entergy Arkansas said it could take several days to restore power. 

The storms blew onward through the night, causing flooding and mudslides in mountainous areas, and knocking out power for about 750,000 people in a 10-state swath ranging from Texas to Georgia up to West Virginia, according to poweroutages.us.

The National Weather Service tallied hundreds of reports of trees down across the region, including many that punctured roofs and downed power lines. 

Several apparent tornadoes spun up in South Carolina, where dozens of homes appeared damaged in a line from Seneca to Clemson. Emergency officials were working to open shelters in the North Carolina mountains, where up to 5 inches of rain fell in a few hours. 

The National Weather Service advised thunderstorms would shift across the Southeast and mid-Atlantic states Monday, bringing potential tornadoes, wind and hail. 

News outlets reported downed trees, flooded streets and other damage in Alabama, Tennessee and Georgia, but the National Weather Service hadn’t immediately confirmed additional tornado touchdowns.  

Strong winds late Sunday toppled power lines and blew trees onto several houses in Clarksdale, Mississippi, trapping some people inside, Mayor Chuck Espy said.  

“I know these are some tough times and I’m just asking everyone to stay prayed up,” Espy said.

The National Weather Service said strong winds were sweeping through other parts of Mississippi, and a tornado was spotted north of Meridian near the Alabama state line. 

»PHOTOS: Storms rip through Deep South on Easter Sunday

Before the storms moved into Mississippi, the weather service reported multiple tornadoes and damaging winds over much of northern Louisiana. There were no immediate reports of serious injuries. Utility companies reported thousands of power outages. 

The mayor of Monroe, Louisiana, Jamie Mayo, told KNOE-TV that the storm damaged 200 to 300 homes in and around the city. Flights were canceled at Monroe Regional Airport, where siding was ripped off buildings and debris was scattered on runways. Airport director Ron Phillips told the News-Star the storm caused up to $30 million in damage to planes inside a hangar. 

In northwest Louisiana, officials reported damage to dozens of homes in DeSoto and Webster parishes, according to news outlets. 

In Morgan County, Alabama, a church roof and steeple were damaged by lightning Sunday afternoon, Morgan County Emergency Management Agency Eddie Hicks told AL.com. Shoals Creek Baptist Church in Priceville was struck by lightning Sunday afternoon. No injuries were reported. 

WBMA-TV reported that strong winds damaged buildings and snapped trees in Walker County, Alabama, north of Birmingham.


Click on the links below to check on power outages in the region:

Georgia Electric Cooperatives: https://georgiaemc.com/page/outages
Georgia Power Outage Map: https://outagemap.georgiapower.com/
Palmetto electric outage map: http://64.203.243.70:83/
Dominion Electric SC https://www.sceg.com/outages-emergencies/power-outages/outage-map

This story is being updated with the latest details. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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