Death toll up to 16 in Southern storms; 7 in Alabama

April 17, 2011 - 0:0

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) -– Vicious storms smacked the Deep South and toppled trees like dominoes as tornadoes howled through towns. Seven deaths were reported in Alabama, including a man killed when the storm tossed a mobile home nearly a quarter of a mile across a state highway.

Combined with earlier reported fatalities in Arkansas and Oklahoma, the confirmed death toll had risen to 16 by early Saturday — the nation's deadliest storm of the season.
Autauga County Chief Deputy Sheriff Joe Sedinger said three adult family members were killed around 11:00 P.M. Friday when a tornado ripped through homes in the Boone's Chapel community 24 miles north of the state capital of Montgomery.
The “tornado hit and jumped and hit and jumped again,” Sedinger said. “It would do some damage and then move on.”
Another three deaths were reported early Saturday in Washington County in southern Alabama, said Yasamie Richardson, spokeswoman for the Alabama Emergency Management Agency.
Don Faulkner, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Mobile, estimated mobile homes make up around 40 percent of the houses in the area of Washington County where the storm hit. Richardson said she didn't immediately have details on the people killed there or where they were living.
The system showed no mercy on Mississippi either as it rolled eastward, damaging or destroying dozens of homes, businesses and churches. Crews worked to clear roads, find shelter for displaced families and restore power to thousands.
In Marengo County in west-central Alabama, four separate tornadoes hit over the span of about five to six hours, emergency management director Kevin McKinney said.
“They weren't simultaneous, they were back-to-back,” he said. The mobile home that had been tossed was a pile of rubble, along with another 30 homes or businesses that were destroyed, McKinney said. Four people had minor injuries.