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Published: Wednesday, 11/16/2011

Storm sweeps across Southeast, damaging homes and businesses

BY JAY REEVES
ASSOCIATED PRESS

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — A strong storm system that produced several possible tornadoes hit the Southeast on Wednesday, damaging dozens of homes and buildings. At least one person was killed and more than a dozen others were injured.

Suspected tornadoes were reported in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. Four homes were damaged in western Alabama, about 60 miles southwest of Tuscaloosa, in the worst bout of weather for that state since about 250 people were killed during a tornado outbreak in April.

In north Georgia, an unidentified person was killed when a tree fell on a sport utility vehicle, said Capt. Tim House of the Forsyth County sheriff's office.

A similar scene occurred in southeastern Mississippi, where Jones County emergency director Don McKinnon said some people were briefly trapped in their homes as trees fell on them. Mobile homes were tossed off their foundations. In all, 15 people were hurt in the area.

"There were no fatalities, so it's a good day," McKinnon said.

National Weather Service officials said teams were on the scene assessing damage. As the weather moved eastward, tornado warnings and watches were issued in nearby states.

Forecasters said a cold front stretching from the Gulf of Mexico to the Northeast was to blame. Temperatures dropped in some areas from the low 70s to the 50s as the front passed, and winds gusted to near 30 mph.

Damage was reported in several parts of Alabama. In Sumter County, in the west-central part of the state, an elderly woman was in her home as a tree crashed into it. She had to be taken to the hospital. Strong winds also damaged roofs to homes and businesses.

In Tuscaloosa, home of the University of Alabama, the day was a harsh reminder of the threat of violent weather for communities still recovering from the killer tornadoes.

"It makes you sit up on the edge of the chair a little more," said Tom Perryman, who works for the school system in Tuscaloosa County, which was hard hit in April.

Some 130 miles to the east, damage was reported in the Auburn area, but so far the college campus there was spared.

In southern Louisiana, a suspected tornado hit a neighborhood in Houma, splintering a home. Crews helped clean up storm debris near a school and the Red Cross sent workers to help with damage assessments. No one was injured.



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