Tornadoes, Storms Kill 7 Across 3 States As Dangerous Weather Moves Across South Today

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A system producing severe storms continued to move across the South on Thursday after tornadoes killed at least five people and injured dozens more in Texas and Oklahoma on Wednesday. Storms in Louisiana killed at least two people.

Tornado warnings have already been issued for parts of Mississippi and Alabama Thursday morning. More than 164,000 homes and businesses across the Deep South were without power as of 9:30 a.m. EDT Thursday, according to

A large tornado ripped across the southeast Texas town of Onalaska in Polk County about 6 p.m. CDT Wednesday. Three people were killed and “20 to 30” were hurt, according to the Polk County Emergency Management Agency.

Ten subdivisions sustained damage in the town of about 1,800 people 75 miles north of Houston. Polk County Judge Sydney Murphy issued a declaration of disaster. The storm moved east across Tyler, Jasper and Newton counties before sliding into Louisiana.

Charles Stephens had to use a hatchet to free his wife and himself from their damaged home on Lake Livingston in Onalaska after a giant pine tree plunged through their roof.

“It took me 45 minutes to climb through the roof to get out,” Stephens told the Houston Chronicle.

The Weather Channel meteorologist Mike Seidel reported that numerous homes were destroyed or damaged in Onalaska.

About 5 p.m. CDT Wednesday, two people were killed when a tornado struck the town of Madill, Oklahoma. One person was critically injured.

One of the people killed was a worker at a J&I Manufacturing Inc. facility, Marshall County Emergency Management Director Robert Chaney said. His body was found a quarter of a mile away, The Associated Press reported.

The second person, Chad L. Weyant, 46, died after his car was hit by the tornado, KOCO reported, citing the Oklahoma Highway Patrol.

Madill, a town of about 3,800 residents, is located 100 miles southeast of Oklahoma City, near the Texas border.

The Archdiocese of Oklahoma City reported that the new Holy Cross Catholic Church and rectory in Madill sustained significant damage.

South of Shreveport, officials in the town of Mansfield confirmed the death of a man who fell into a flooded drainage ditch and was swept away about 5:30 p.m. CDT Wednesday evening, according to the Shreveport Times.

Flooding trapped several other Mansfield residents in their homes, prompting rescues, the report added.

“There was some pretty extreme flooding here in Mansfield,” DeSoto Parish Sheriff Jayson Richardson told the Shreveport Times. “Water like I’ve not seen in many, many years, if ever.”

About 94 miles to the southeast, in Woodworth, Louisiana, a woman was killed as a potential tornado roared through Rapides Parish, the Alexandria Town Talk reported.

The Rapides Parish Sheriff’s Office confirmed the death but did not provide detail on how she died.

Homes were damaged and destroyed on Robinson Bridge Road, not far from Interstate 49, Town Talk reported. One of the homes belonged to a deputy, who huddled with his family in a closet as the storm struck.

Damage also was reported at Louisiana State University of Alexandria and in the Elmer area.

Significant storm damage was reported Thursday morning in Pointe Coupee Parish, Port Allen, and Zachary, KAFB reported.

A canopy over the gas pumps collapsed at a Circle K at Highway 19 and Highway 64 in Zachary. A tree crashed onto a house in Port Allen. A family was asleep inside at the time, but no one appeared to be injured, KAFB reported.

Hail ranging from an inch to an inch-and-a-half in diameter was reported by the National Weather Service in parts of Watson, Maringouin, and Livonia.

by Ron Brackett and Sean Breslin (2020, Apr 23)

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Kyrie Wagner