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The Journal Gazette

  • Associated Press Roman Brown, left, and Sam Crawford help a friend look for medicine in their destroyed home Sunday outside of Hamilton, Miss., after an apparent tornado touched down Saturday.

  • Associated Press Roman Brown moves part of a wall out of his way as he looks for a friend's medicine in their destroyed home near Hamilton, Miss., on Sunday after a storm moved through the area.

Monday, April 15, 2019 1:00 am

Strong storms sweep through South; 8 dead

Associated Press

Powerful storms swept across the South on Sunday after unleashing suspected tornadoes and flooding that killed at least eight people, injured dozens and flattened much of a Texas town. Three children were among the dead.

Nearly 90,000 customers were without electricity in Texas, Mississippi, Louisiana, Arkansas and Georgia as of midday Sunday, according to www.poweroutage.us as the severe weather left a trail of destruction.

Two children, ages 8 and 3, were killed on a back road in East Texas when a pine tree fell onto the car in which they were riding during a severe thunderstorm Saturday near Pollok, about 150 miles southeast of Dallas.

At least one person was killed and about two dozen others were injured after a suspected tornado struck the Caddo Mounds State Historic Site in East Texas during a Native American cultural event in Alto, about 130 miles southeast of Dallas. 

In neighboring Houston County, the sheriff's office said one person was killed in Weches, 6 miles southwest of Caddo Mound.

A tornado also flattened much of the south side of Franklin, Texas, overturning mobile homes and damaging other residences, Robertson County Sheriff Gerald Yezak said.

The weather service said preliminary information showed an EF-3 tornado touched down with winds of 140 mph. It destroyed 55 homes, a church, four businesses, a duplex and part of the local housing authority building, authorities said. Two people were hospitalized for injuries that were not thought to be life-threatening, Yezak said. Some people had to be extricated from damaged dwellings.

Heavy rains and storms raked Mississippi into the night Saturday as the storms moved east.

Roy Ratliff, 95, died after a tree crashed onto his trailer in northeastern Mississippi, Monroe County Road Manager Sonny Clay said at a news conference, adding that a tornado had struck. Nineteen residents were taken to hospitals, including two in critical condition. A tornado was reported in the area 140 miles  southeast of Memphis, Tennessee, at the time.

The large storm system also caused flash floods in Louisiana, where two deaths were reported. 

Authorities said 13-year-old Sebastian Omar Martinez drowned in a drainage canal after flash flooding struck Bawcomville, near Monroe, said Deputy Glenn Springfield of the Ouachita Parish Sheriff's Department. Separately, one person died when a car was submerged in floodwaters in Calhoun, also near Monroe.