Multiple tornadoes were reported in Mississippi on Sunday, destroying homes and uprooting trees before the storm system moved into Atlanta, forcing residents to seek refuge in Georgia's largest city on Monday. There were no immediate reports of injuries.
Just south of Yazoo City, Mississippi, Vickie Savell looked at the remains of her brand new mobile home, which she and her husband had just moved into eight days ago. It was her first new home in 40 years, and it had been lifted off the foundation, moved about 7.6 meters and completely destroyed.
"Oh my god, my first new home in 40 years and it's gone," she said Monday, amidst treetops scattered around the neighborhood and the roar of chainsaws as people worked to clear roads.
Savell had gone to church, but her husband Nathan had driven home and crouched in the front of his truck while the nearby house was being destroyed. From there he saw his new home blow past him, he said.
Nearby, Garry McGinty remembered listening to the birds chirping at home – and then being dead silent. He looked out and saw a dark ominous cloud and took refuge in a corridor, he said. He survived, but trees hit his carport, two vehicles, and the side of his house.
A series of severe storms rolled through the state into the night hours on Sunday afternoon. Late Sunday, a "tornado emergency" was declared for Tupelo and surrounding areas. Meteorologists urged residents to take cover.
“Damage has been reported in the city of Tupelo,” the mayor's office said in a Facebook post just before 11pm. “Emergency services are currently assessing the extent of damage. Please don't go and drive. "
Photos retweeted by the National Weather Service in Memphis showed several downed trees and power lines. Tupelo Middle School suffered some damage, as did homes and businesses.
There were multiple reports of damage to homes on Elvis Presley Drive, just down the street from the home where the famous singer was born. Presley was born in a two-room home in the Tupelo neighborhood, but there was no evidence that the historic home had been damaged. It is now a museum.
But just down the street on Elvis Presley Drive, a tornado tore the roof of Terrille and Chaquilla Pulliam's home, they told the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal. About 10 family members took shelter in the house, and "we get everyone in on time," said Terrille Pulliam.
Calhoun County Sheriff Greg Pollan said Calhoun City was also "hit hard tonight".
“Light poles have been demolished. Trees in a few houses. Trees on vehicles. Damage to multiple companies. Fortunately, we don't have any reports of injuries at this time, ”Pollan posted on Facebook, asking people to stay off the road. "Emergency workers are working feverishly to open the roads as quickly as possible."
News outlets also reported tornadoes near Yazoo City, Byram and Tchula earlier in the day. The National Weather Service in Jackson shared several images of funnel clouds in different parts of the state.
As the system moved east, storms damaged homes in a Kentucky town early Monday, and a tornado watch for much of the day covered large areas of Alabama and Georgia. At one point Monday, a tornado warning prompted Atlanta residents to seek shelter.
In the town of Tompkinsville in southern Kentucky, a severe storm damaged several homes Monday morning and toppled trees and power lines, fire chief Kevin Jones said. No injuries have been reported, he said. The National Weather Service checked to see if the damage appeared consistent with a tornado.
In Atlanta, police responded late Monday morning to a call from a tree at a house on the west side of the city, Atlanta police spokesman Anthony Grant said. There were no immediate reports of injuries there, he said.
Atlanta firefighters responded to multiple calls from trees down, Atlanta Fire Rescue said in a statement late Monday morning. The agency was unaware of any significant injuries, but asked residents to be on the lookout as falling trees and branches still posed a threat.
Georgia Power reported about 3,000 outages in the southwest of the city. GreyStone Power reported more than 3,000 outages in the states of Douglas and south Fulton.
A warm, humid mass of air was present when a top-level disturbance swept through the area and hit the storms over the Mississippi, said Mike Edmonston, a Mississippi National Weather Service meteorologist.
"The ingredients were just enough to develop severe storms," he said. Three weather investigation teams were preparing to assess damage in Mississippi, he said.
More storms are on the horizon in parts of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Georgia on Tuesday, forecasters said. Tuesday's storms could bring gusts of wind up to 70 mph and hail up to the size of golf balls, the National Weather Service said in Jackson, noting that "tornadoes are likely to be Tuesday through Tuesday evenings" in parts of Mississippi.
Associated Press Writers Jeff Martin in Marietta, Georgia; Jeff Amy in Atlanta; Becky Yonker in Simpsonville, Kentucky; and Julie Walker in New York City contributed to this report.
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