LOUISVILLE, Miss. — A dangerous storm system that spawned a chain of deadly tornadoes over three days flattened homes and businesses, forced frightened residents in more than half a dozen states to take cover and left tens of thousands in the dark Tuesday.
As the storm hopscotched across a large swath of the U.S., the overall death toll was more than 30, killed Monday and Sunday in a band stretching from Oklahoma to Alabama. Forecasts showed the storm continuing to threaten residents in the Deep South Tuesday afternoon and evening, with another round of howling winds, pounding rain, flash flooding and tornado conditions possible.
Some awoke Tuesday to find their loved ones missing and their homes pulverized. In Louisville, a hardscrabble logging town hit by one of the storm's twisters, firefighters picked through the remains of mobile homes, and twenty of them linked hands to wade through debris. Rescue workers stepped gingerly over downed power lines and trees that were snapped in half and stripped of branches.
With water and roof damage, the small local hospital's emergency room was evacuated Monday.
"We thought we were going to be OK, then a guy came in and said, 'It's here right now,'" said Dr. Michael Henry, head of the ER. "Then boom ... it blew through."
Just east of the hospital, a woman died at the daycare center she'd run for seven years, according to the county coroner. One seriously injured child was evacuated from the center, said state Rep. Michael Evans, D-Louisville, who is acting as a liaison for the county. The child's condition was not known Tuesday. Evans said authorities don't think any other children were in the center during the storm.
"No other parents have shown up to say, 'My child was at the daycare.' That's why we think the day care is fine," Evans said.