- Associated Press - Tuesday, April 29, 2014

TUPELO, Miss. (AP) — After spawning deadly tornadoes that flattened homes and businesses in Alabama, Mississippi and Tennessee, a storm system that also caused havoc in the Midwest had Georgia in its sights early Tuesday.

At least 11 people in the South were killed Monday, bringing the overall death toll from two days of severe weather to at least 28.

In Mississippi, Republican state Sen. Giles Ward huddled in a bathroom with his wife, four other family members and their dog Monday as a tornado destroyed his two-story brick house and flipped his son-in-law’s SUV upside down onto the patio in Louisville.


PHOTOS: Tornadoes kill 9 as storm move across the South


“For about 30 seconds, it was unbelievable,” Ward said. “It’s about as awful as anything we’ve gone through.”

Tens of thousands of customers were without power in Alabama, Mississippi, and Kentucky, which did not report tornadoes but was slammed with severe storms. Thousands more hunkered down in basements and shelters as The National Weather Service issued watches and warnings for more tornadoes throughout the night in Alabama.

The storm even sent staff at a TV news station running for cover. NBC affiliate WTVA-TV chief meteorologist Matt Laubhan in Tupelo, Miss., was reporting live on the weather around 3 p.m. when he realized the twister was coming close enough that maybe he and his staff should abandon the television studio.

“This is a tornado ripping through the city of Tupelo as we speak. And this could be deadly,” he said in a video widely tweeted and broadcast on YouTube.

Moments later he adds, “A damaging tornado. On the ground. Right now.”

The video then shows Laubhan peeking in from the side to see if he is still live on the air before yelling to staff off-camera to get down in the basement. “Basement, now!” he yells, before disappearing off camera himself.

Later, the station tweeted, “We are safe here.”

Weather satellites showed tumultuous clouds arcing across much of the South over the course of the day Monday.

The system is the latest onslaught of severe weather a day after a half-mile-wide tornado carved an 80-mile path of destruction through the suburbs of Little Rock, Ark., killing at least 15. Tornadoes or severe storms also killed one person each in Oklahoma and Iowa on Sunday.

Six people died in Winston County, Miss., on Monday, including a woman who perished in the day care center she owned in Louisville, county Coroner Scott Gregory told The Associated Press late Monday. Louisville is the county seat and home to about 6,600 people.

It was unclear if any children were in the day care center at the time, said William McCully, acting spokesman for the Winston County Emergency Management Agency.

Earlier Monday, emergency officials attending a news conference with Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant said seven people had been killed statewide. State Director of Health Protection Jim Craig said officials were working with coroners to confirm the total. It was unclear if the deaths in Winston County were included in that tally.

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