EDOM, Texas — Violent weather ripped through the South for a second straight night, killing one person each in Arkansas and Mississippi, damaging more than 100 homes in a rural Texas community and overturning a trailer at an oil drilling site in Louisiana.
The latest round of severe weather Tuesday night and early Wednesday came a day after a series of powerful storms killed 10 people in Arkansas and one in Mississippi.
The National Weather Service issued a high-risk warning for severe weather in a stretch extending from northeast of Memphis to just northeast of Dallas and covering a large swath of Arkansas. It last issued such a warning on April 16, when dozens of tornadoes hit North Carolina and killed 21 people.
The Arkansas Department of Emergency Management confirmed early Wednesday that one person died in a storm in Sharp County. Officials said the person was in a home near Arkansas Highway 230 but didn’t know exactly how the person died or whether a tornado had touched down in the area.
In Lafayette County, Mississippi, emergency management director David Shaw said the driver of an 18-wheeler died when his truck hit a tree that had blown down across Mississippi Highway 30 east of Oxford. The driver was not immediately identified.
Dozens of tornado warnings were issued in Arkansas throughout the night. Strong winds peeled part of the roof off of a medical building next to a hospital in West Memphis, near the Tennessee border, but no one was inside.
One person was injured when a storm slammed through the tiny town of Edom some 75 miles east of Dallas late Tuesday, said Fire Chief Eddie Wood. Witnesses described seeing what they thought was a tornado rolling the woman’s mobile home with her inside
“We have major destruction,” said Chuck Allen, Van Zandt County emergency management spokesman. “We have multiple houses damaged or destroyed … easily 100-plus.”
A video shot by the Tyler Morning Telegraph showed emergency responders covering the injured woman to shield her from rain and hail. Her mobile home was reduced to a pile of debris in the road.
As the sun rose Wednesday, residents on the outskirts of the small, rural community started to clear up the damage from the storm. The area was littered with uprooted trees, some had split in half and others landed on homes.
Rhonda Modesitt, 45, said she and her 15-year-old son watched the tornado approach their duplex.
“You could see lumber and stuff swirling in it,” Modesitt said as she swept up broken glass from patio furniture that was smashed in the storm. “You could hear it coming through and then it got real still.”
In West Tennessee, heavy rain prompted the evacuation of a military base near Memphis. Military officials moved 122 personnel from the naval support base at Millington to hotels after a stream began flooding a low-lying section of the base, WMC-TV reported.
Thunderstorms with high winds and possible tornadoes caused tree and power line damage from Bastrop, La., to Tishomingo County in northeastern Mississippi late Tuesday night and early Wednesday morning, according to the National Weather Service’s office in Jackson, Miss.
In Mississippi, there were also reports of roof damage to homes and authorities in several counties said trees fell on cars, but no injuries were reported.
The National Weather Service Office in Jackson said thunderstorms with high winds and possible tornadoes caused tree and power line damage from Bastrop, La., to the small community of Cross Roads in Tishomingo County, Miss.
Officials reported minor injuries in northwestern Louisiana when a trailer at an oil drilling site turned over in high winds in Bossier Parish. In nearby Webster Parish, Sheriff’s Deputy Chuck Warford said there were reports of downed trees and power lines and some damage to roofs.
The latest round of storms moved through as communities in much of the region struggled with flooding and damage from earlier twisters. In Arkansas, a tornado smashed Vilonia, just north of Little Rock, on Monday night, ripping the roof off the grocery store, flattening homes and tossing vehicles into the air. Four people were killed in Vilonia, and six died in flooding elsewhere in the state. In Mississippi, a 3-year-old girl was killed when a storm toppled a tree onto her home.
An early warning may have saved Lisa Watson’s life. She packed up her three children and was speeding away from the Black Oak Ranch subdivision in Vilonia when she looked to her left and saw the twister approach. Two of her neighbors died in their mobile homes, and a visiting couple who took shelter in a metal shipping container where the husband stored tools died when the container was blown at least 150 feet into a creek.
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Jimmy Talley said his brother, David, told his mother that he and his wife, Katherine, were leaving the mobile home they’d been staying in because they thought the container would be safe.
“He said `I love you, Mom,’ and that’s the last that anybody heard from him,” Jimmy Talley said.
The tornado also reduced the mobile home the couple had been staying in to a pile of boards and belongings. The other victims were Charles Mitchell, 55, and a 63-year-old man whose name has not yet been released.
Faulkner County Judge Preston Scroggin said the tornado tore through an area 3 miles wide and 15 miles long, and he thought more people might have died if the residents hadn’t been receiving warnings about a possible outbreak of tornadoes since the weekend and the local weather office hadn’t issued a warning almost 45 minutes before the twister hit Vilonia.