Strong storms batter South, killing at least 3

LEARNED, Miss. (AP) — Strong storms again roared across the South on Thursday, killing two Mississippi drivers and a woman in Alabama while leaving more than 100,000 people without power across Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas.

National Weather Service forecasters said they believe multiple tornadoes hit southwest and central Mississippi, although they won’t be sure until damage is surveyed. Heavy winds also were reported in Louisiana earlier in the day and in central Alabama as the system quickly pushed eastward. Forecasters predicted the system would push into Georgia before sunrise.

On the back side of the system, there were also reports late Thursday of high winds in southern Oklahoma.

A Mississippi man was killed Thursday afternoon when his car hit a tree on a highway south of Philadelphia, Mississippi, Neshoba County Coroner John Stephens told local news outlets. Stephens did not immediately release the man’s name.

Kenderick Magee, 24, was also killed while driving in the storm, WLBT-TV reported. Magee fatally crashed near the rural town of Gillsburg in southwest Mississippi, Amite County Coroner Campbell Sharp said.

Two minor injuries were reported in Harvey, Louisiana, a suburb of New Orleans, when a power pole fell on two vehicles.

Alabama authorities said a woman was killed Thursday night after strong storms knocked a tree onto her mobile home in St Clair County. Emergency crews found 42-year-old Monica Clements dead inside the home. Clements’ 10-year-old son suffered minor injuries.

Damage was heavy in the Mississippi hamlet of Learned, about 20 miles southwest of Jackson. Large oaks were uprooted from saturated ground, landing on at least a dozen houses.

One belongs to the family of Jesse Qualls, a Mississippi State University student who was on his way home for Easter when the storms hit. He says his mother had gone to pick up his sister from school and returned to find a pecan tree had crashed through Qualls’ bedroom and bathroom. His dog Dukey was uninjured.

Qualls said he got a tearful call from his mother, but he struggled to make it home, using his truck to push fallen trees off roads leading into town.

“I saw the house and I started freaking out,” Qualls said, as residents and emergency workers sawed up other trees off streets in the 100-resident town. “My dad passed away a while ago and this is all I have left of him.”

Qualls, though, said his family will be fine and the storm is likely to spark a long-delayed renovation.

“We’ve got a lot of people to help,” Qualls said. He said his family likely would stay with relatives in nearby Clinton, where two cars were flipped in a Walmart parking lot.

To the northeast, Scott County Emergency Management Director Mike Marlow said reports indicated a number of homes were damaged near Morton and the roof blew off a gas station near Lena.