WINSTON-SALEM, North Carolina (Reuters) - Severe storms and suspected tornadoes across the South on Wednesday resulted in structural damage, power outages, injuries and deaths in at least three states, officials said.
In suburban Atlanta, a man died Wednesday afternoon when a large pine tree fell on top of the sport utility vehicle he was driving in heavy wind and rain, said Captain Tim House, spokesman for the Forsyth County Sheriff's Office.
"The driver was trapped and mortally wounded," House said.
In North Carolina, Governor Bev Perdue said in a statement that: "We have reports that tornadoes touched down in Randolph and Davidson counties this evening, causing a fatality in Davidson."
"Based on currently available information, we know that more than a dozen structures were damaged in Randolph County, along with an undetermined amount of damage to buildings in Davidson County," she also said.
Derrec Becker, spokesman for the South Carolina Emergency Management Division, confirmed that storms in that state had downed trees, damaged homes and caused injuries and some fatalities, although he could not say how many people had died.
However, the Charlotte Observer newspaper said three people were killed late Wednesday as a powerful storm moved across York County.
At least 15 people were injured in southern Mississippi on Wednesday morning as storms passed through Jones County, just north of Laurel. Only one of those was transported to an area hospital for treatment, said Don McKinnon, the county's emergency management director.
About three dozen homes and several businesses were affected by strong winds stemming from suspected tornadoes, McKinnon said. An area near the Shady Grove community suffered the brunt of the damage, with felled trees temporarily trapping some residents in their homes and winds knocking some mobile homes off their foundations.
"It's been a busy morning. It looks like five homes have been destroyed," McKinnon told Reuters.
A series of deadly tornadoes battered the Southeast in April, killing an estimated 364 people in states including Alabama and Mississippi.
Possible tornadoes also struck in two southeast Louisiana locations early Wednesday, said Freddie Zeigler, a forecaster with the National Weather Service in Slidell, Louisiana.
Weather officials received reports on Wednesday that a two-story house was lifted from its foundation and moved about 10 feet, and an unoccupied semi-truck was thrown around in winds that struck three miles south of Kentwood.
ALABAMA GETS SOAKING
Southwestern Alabama experienced widespread rain showers and thunderstorms, said National Weather Service meteorologist Aaron Gleason in Birmingham.
"We have enough wind shear to be conducive to tornadoes," he said. "We have damage reports from Sumter County in southwest Alabama for a possible tornado."
Gleason said the affected areas had seen downed trees and damaged homes. In the city of Demopolis, strong winds overturned a boat at a dealership and caused roof damage in town.
An elderly woman who had been trapped inside a damaged home in southwestern Alabama was transported to a local hospital, said Yasamie August, spokeswoman for the Alabama Emergency Management Agency.
Nearly 23,000 Alabama Power Company customers in Montgomery, the state capital, and Auburn, home of Auburn University, were without power early Wednesday afternoon, said company spokesman Freddy Padilla.
Between 25 and 30 homes throughout Lee County and an apartment complex in Auburn were damaged, said Lee County EMA spokeswoman Rita Smith.
(Additional reporting by Kathy Finn in New Orleans, Peggy Gargis in Birmingham, Ala, Kelli Dugan in Mobile, Ala, and David Beasley in Atlanta; Editing by Colleen Jenkins and Greg McCune)
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