At least 31 people across six states were killed in tornadoes unleashed by a vicious storm system that leveled towns and was threatening to cause more mayhem in heavily populated parts of the U.S. South on Tuesday.
In Arkansas and Mississippi, the hardest hit states, more than 23 people were killed and more than 200 injured over the last three days by tornadoes that reduced homes to splinters, snapped trees like twigs and lifted trucks into the air.
Makeshift shelters have been set up for thousands of families forced out of their homes while the National Guard, local police and residents who ha lost all their possessions sifted through the rubble looking for more victims.
Emergency officials were counting casualties, picking through rubble and bracing for more carnage Tuesday as a massive, slow-moving but extremely violent storm system refused to release its grip on a wide swath of the nation.
The twisters and high winds flattened homes and businesses, uprooted trees and flipped cars across sections of the South and Midwest. The National Weather Service was investigating reports of almost 100 tornadoes. And the destruction my not be over yet.
Late Monday, Mississippi officials reported seven deaths after 12 twisters touched down in the state. At least two others were killed in Alabama.
Georgia Governor Nathan Deal, who declared a state of emergency late on Monday in preparation for the looming storms, said in a statement, “We’re prepared now, and we’ll be ready for recovery should we, God forbid, experience tornado damage or flooding.”
More than 60 million people from southeastern Michigan to the central Gulf Coast to the Carolinas and southern Virginia are at risk of severe storms and tornadoes Tuesday, AccuWeather meteorologist Alex Sosnowski said.
“We will see tornadoes again today and unfortunately, the areas that are under the gun today are the same ones that were under the gun yesterday,” said Bill Bunting, operations chief at the National Weather Service’s Storm Predictions Center in Norman, Oklahoma.
The White House said President Barack Obama declared a major disaster in Arkansas and ordered federal aid to supplement state and local recovery efforts.
More links on Tornadoes
More links on Severe Weather