5 Dead, Dozens Hurt After Tornadoes, Storms Slam Alabama and Tennessee

Residents around the South have begun cleaning up after a night of tornadoes left five people dead and more than a dozen injured.

Alabama and Tennessee were assessing the damage Wednesday from severe storms overnight that killed five people and injured dozens across the two states.

Search and rescue teams were combing McMinn County, Tennessee, after a tornado touched down there and injured up to 23 people, the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency said.

More than 30 commercial and residential structures were damaged, McMinn County Mayor John Gentry said Wednesday afternoon.

He urged the public to stay away from areas affected by the storm and said a Red Cross shelter had been set up at a local Methodist church.

There was some good news: In Athens, one of the hardest hit areas of the county, a healthy baby was delivered after a pregnant woman, thrown from her destroyed home, was taken to the hospital, Gentry added, holding back tears.

Both the baby and mother were doing well, he said.

There were no deaths in McCinn County, but a husband and wife died in nearby Polk County, where a post office was among the buildings significantly damaged, the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency said.

Eight Tennessee counties experienced severe weather overnight. Three other people were injured in Marion County, where structures had collapsed and trees and power lines were downed.

Image: Damage at Ider Daycare in Flatrock, Alabama
Damage at Ider Daycare in Flatrock, Alabama. Jake Berent / WAFF

 

Meanwhile, Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley issued a state of emergency throughout the state after a tornado killed at least three people early Wednesday, authorities said.

The deaths were reported near Highway 71 in Rosalie, Jackson County. All three victims died in one home, Jackson County Sheriff's Office Chief Deputy Rocky Harnen told NBC News.

Ten others were also critically injured in Jackson and DeKalb counties in northeastern Alabama. The injuries ranged from minor to critical, Art Faulkner, director of Alabama Emergency Management Agency, said at a news conference.

"Just know that this is not the first time this area has faced these kind of tragedies and I am confident that the people up here will do as they have always done, and they will rise up and neighbors will help neighbors," Faulkner said.

Also in DeKalb County, a day care center was "completely destroyed," according to authorities.

Image: Map showing Rosalie, Alabama.
A map showing Rosalie, Alabama. Google Maps

 

Officials initially described it as a "24-hour day care" but later confirmed that it was not open when the storm hit. Its operators, who live in a nearby mobile home, sought shelter in the building. Three adults and three children from that family were later transported to the hospital, DeKalb County Emergency Management director Anthony Clifton said.

The three adults were listed in critical condition.

At least 25 homes and six poultry operations were destroyed across DeKalb County, Clifton added.

Chuck Phillips, Jackson County sheriff, said "numerous" homes in the county had been destroyed and many had been damaged, including two churches, and electricity lines and trees were downed throughout the area.

As of 11:30 a.m. ET, Alabama Power reported that 6,500 customers were suffering outages, including 1,600 in Birmingham.

There were also "multiple areas with damage" in Colbert County in the northwest of Alabama, a local police official told NBC News.

 
 

The storms continued into Wednesday afternoon. Atlanta Fire Rescue said there were reports of a tornado touchdown in Cobb County, including Atlanta, while another tornado was reported in Temple, Georgia.

The band of storms stretched from the coast of Louisiana, across Mississippi and Alabama and into Georgia. New Orleans was among the cities under a tornado watch Wednesday.

Between tornado watches and heavy rain, about 10 million people from Louisiana through western North Carolina were under severe weather risk. 

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