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Easter storms sweep South, killing at least 3 in Mississippi

Associated Press • Apr 12, 2020 at 8:16 PM

Strong storms pounded the Deep South on Sunday, killing at least three people in south Mississippi and damaging up to 300 homes and other buildings in northern Louisiana.

Mississippi Emergency Management Agency director Greg Michel said one person killed was in Walthall County and two were killed in Lawrence County. Both are more than an hour’s drive south of Jackson, near the Louisiana state line.

The National Weather Service said strong winds were sweeping through other parts of Mississippi, and a tornado was spotted north of Meridian near the Alabama state line.

The weather service reported multiple tornadoes and damaging winds over much of northern Louisiana. There were no immediate reports of serious injuries. Utility companies reported thousands of power outages.

The mayor of Monroe, Louisiana, Jamie Mayo, told KNOE-TV that the storm damaged 200-300 homes in and around the city. Flights were canceled at Monroe Regional Airport, where siding was ripped off buildings and debris was scattered on runways. Airport director Ron Phillips told the News-Star the storm caused up to $30 million in damage to planes inside a hangar.

In northwest Louisiana, officials reported damage to dozens of homes in DeSoto and Webster parishes, according to news outlets.

The weather service said the greatest risk for strong Easter Sunday storms covered much of Mississippi, Alabama and western Georgia. That area was at “moderate risk” while much of the rest of the South was under at least a “marginal” risk, the weather service said.

In Morgan County, Alabama, a church roof and steeple were damaged by lightning Sunday afternoon, Morgan County Emergency Management Agency Eddie Hicks told AL.com. Shoals Creek Baptist Church in Priceville was struck by lightning around 12:45 p.m. No injuries were reported.

“This could be a very difficult day weatherwise,” Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves told residents in a live Facebook presentation. “Please be weather aware. Pay attention. I know that these storms that are coming through can be dangerous. We can see significant winds. We can also see significant tornadoes coming through Mississippi today.”

The weather service said a broader area, from east Texas to the East Coast was under at least a “marginal” risk of storms.