3 Hurt In La. As More Storms Batter Southeast

Tuesday, May 5th 2009, 5:34 am
By: News On 6

NEW ORLEANS (AP) - High winds from a possible tornado injured three people and damaged nearly two dozen homes Monday in southern Louisiana, a day after severe thunderstorms across the Southeast killed one person.

A woman was treated for a broken leg after the storm ripped through a residential part of Catahoula, La., around 6 a.m., said Major Ginny Higgins of the St. Martin Parish sheriff's department. The woman, in her early 30s, was struck by flying debris as she ran from her mobile home to her mother's home, according to Higgins.

Two other people had minor injuries that didn't require medical attention. The storm also demolished three homes, left seven with major damage and at least 13 others with minor damage, according to Higgins, who said the damage was limited to an area of about five or six blocks.

"It pretty much went in a straight path," Higgins said. "There was a lot of debris."

The National Weather Service dispatched a crew to investigate whether a tornado was responsible for the damage in Catahoula, which is about 140 miles northwest of New Orleans.

Sunday's storms spawned possible tornados from Mississippi to Georgia and killed a 46-year-old woman in Laurel, Miss., who was hit by a tree while she stood outside her home. Another person in the same county was injured.

Several funnel clouds were reported to the National Weather Service in Alabama, along with structural damage, downed trees and power lines in counties south and southwest of the greater Birmingham area. No injuries were reported.

Police in northwest Georgia said at least four funnel clouds were spotted but caused no significant damage or injuries.

The National Weather Service in Birmingham said much of the damage was caused by a weather phenomenon called a derecho (duh-RAY'-choh), a widespread and long-lived straight line wind storm that sweeps over a large area at high speed.

The storm front with winds over 58 mph knocked down thousands of trees south of Interstate 20 in Alabama.

Storms also spread heavy rains that caused flooding Monday in areas including West Virginia, where nearly 2 inches of rain in western parts of the state made roads impassable, washed out bridges, shut down schools and knocked out power to thousands.

Though no injuries were reported in West Virginia, swollen creeks were flooding some basements in Kanawha and Roane counties, emergency officials said.

All roads in Roane County except the westbound lanes of U.S. 33 were closed, said paramedic supervisor Danny Cronan.

"At the ambulance station in Spencer, the whole parking lot is flooded," Newton Fire Chief Sean McCarty said.

Appalachian Power and Allegheny Power crews were working to restore power to about 9,600 customers after downed trees knocked out power, company officials said.

High water and power outages forced all schools to close in Calhoun, Gilmer, Lewis, Lincoln and Roane counties, with some closings in Kanawha. Doddrige County Schools dismissed students early.