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Fierce storms lash South

BY SUSAN KIM | BALTIMORE | February 18, 2001

Storms bringing hurricane-force winds and flash floods lashed the South late Friday and early Saturday.

Several residents in low-lying areas had to be rescued by helicopter from tree limbs, rooftops, and bridges as flash floodwaters swirled

beneath them. At least two deaths were attributed to the storms, which knocked out power to thousands of people.

Winds of 100 mph were reported in Birmingham, AL, and 270,000 homes and businesses were without power in the state on Saturday. "Our church had some wind damage to the upper parts but it looks like insurance will cover it," said James Lovely, a member of the Bright Lilley Baptist Church in Birmingham.

"There are trees down and a lot of power outages," added Gerald Parmer, pastor at the First Church of the Nazarene.

Tuscaloosa, devastated by tornadoes in December, sustained minor damage from this latest set of storms.

High winds were reported in Mississippi as well, and state officials said their preliminary assessment estimated about $3 million in damage,

mostly to roofs.

Preliminary reports showed that the town of Brandon was particularly hard hit. Oktibbeha County sustained heavy damage, especially in the community of Sturgis. Damage was reported in the town of Durant, in Holmes County. Jackson, Starkville, Yazoo City, and Columbus reported damage as well.

The storms also downed trees and power lines in Georgia, where more than 60,000 homes were without power.

Golf ball-size hail also caused some damage in that state, said Lisa Ray, public information officer for Georgia emergency management. "But

all in all we were pretty lucky," she said.

Rain totals for the past two days have approached a half-foot around the Dallas-Fort Worth area. Fritz Parker, a volunteer for the United

Methodist Committee on Relief, heard reports of local flooding.

"There was flooding in low-lying areas but it looks like it's draining off today," added Gary Jackson, associate pastor at Greater Emanuel

Baptist Church in Dallas.

Heavy rain also drenched Arkansas and Alabama.

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