Extreme Weather Kills 8 as Tornadoes and Flooding Hit South

A powerful storm system that spawned tornadoes and flooding killed at least eight people, including three children, over the weekend and left a trail of damaged homes, splintered trees and power outages stretching from Texas to the Northeast.

At least 17 tornadoes blew through Texas, Mississippi, Alabama and Ohio. The storms also dumped snow on parts of the Midwest and deluged the Northeast with heavy rain before moving out to sea Monday.

In Franklin, Tex., about 125 miles south of Dallas, a tornado destroyed 55 homes, a church, four businesses, a duplex and part of the local housing authority building, the authorities said. Some people had to be pulled out of damaged dwellings.

Others were not as fortunate. Four people died in Texas, two in Louisiana, and one each in Mississippi and Alabama.

Two of the children were killed when a pine tree fell onto the car they were riding in during a severe thunderstorm Saturday on a back road in East Texas, near Pollok, about 150 miles southeast of Dallas.

The large storm system also caused flash floods in Louisiana. A 13-year-old drowned in a drainage canal that filled with water after flash flooding struck Bawcomville, near Monroe. Separately, one person died when a car was submerged in floodwaters in Calhoun.

Heavy rains and storms raked Mississippi into the night Saturday as the storms moved east. The storm damaged a roof of a hotel in New Albany, Miss., and Mississippi State University’s 21,000 students huddled in basements and hallways as a tornado neared the campus in Starkville.

A university spokesman, Sid Salter, said some debris, possibly carried by the tornado, was found on campus, but no injuries were reported and no buildings were damaged.

In Hamilton, Miss., Robert Scott, 72, said he had been sleeping in his recliner late Saturday when he found himself in his yard after a tornado ripped most of his home off its foundation, according to The Associated Press.

His 71-year-old wife, Linda, was in a different part of the house and also survived, he said. They found each other while crawling through the remnants of the house they have lived in since 1972.

“We’re living, and God has blessed us,” Mr. Scott, a retired manager for a grocery store meat department, said Sunday as neighbors helped him salvage his belongings.

In Ohio, a tornado touched down at about 5 p.m. on Sunday in Shelby, a town of 10,000 about 90 miles southwest of Cleveland. About a half-dozen homes were damaged, and at least six people were injured.

“If there is a silver lining to the cloud that passed us, was the time, day and location — just a half a mile to the north and our residential neighborhoods would have been devastated,” Lance Combs, the police chief, said on Facebook on Sunday night.

The storm, though, didn’t spare the Rocket Chevrolet dealership. An aerial video showed its main structure severely damaged, with tidy rows of untouched vehicles in its lot.

High winds whipped much of the Eastern United States on Sunday, from Ohio to Pennsylvania and from New York south to the Florida Panhandle. Those reports included many tornado warnings, but not necessarily confirmed tornadoes, weather officials said.

The same storm system caused some late-season heavy snow, ranging from four to six inches, in northern Illinois, southwestern Wisconsin and parts of the lower peninsula of Michigan.

“Springtime is definitely a ramp-up time for severe weather,” said Bob Oravec, a forecaster for the National Weather Service in College Park, Md.

By Monday morning, however, the last vestiges of the heavy rainstorms had moved through Boston, and most of the severe weather was pushing off the East Coast. Early morning showers and thunderstorms with brief high wind gusts greeted the morning in Boston, where 32,500 participants in the Boston Marathon were getting ready for race day.

Still, nearly 200,000 customers were without electricity in Pennsylvania, Virginia, New Jersey and New York as of Monday, according to www.poweroutage.us.

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