At least 2 dead in Alabama as severe storms and tornadoes sweep south

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Severe storms with tornadoes swept through parts of the South Tuesday through Wednesday morning, killing at least two people in Alabama and damaging homes and other buildings in at least three states, officials said.

A tornado threat remains in the region through Wednesday morning, forecasters say.

Two people were killed and at least one other injured when a tornado struck Wednesday morning in the Flatwood area near Alabama’s capital, Montgomery County emergency management director Christina Thornton told CNN.

“Many more lives have been saved thanks to the heroic efforts of our first responders. We pray for our community as we mourn this tragic loss of life,” Thornton said.

At least 29 tornado reports have been reported since Tuesday afternoon, mostly in central and southern Mississippi and Alabama and in Louisiana, the Storm Prediction Center said.

The extent of the damage wasn’t immediately clear, but early reports included:

Alabama: Tornadoes are said to have damaged homes in communities like Boylston near Montgomery and in the state’s southwest early Wednesday, according to early reports to the National Weather Service.

An apartment complex was torn apart late Tuesday near Eutaw in Greene County in western Alabama, with a roof ripped off and collapsed walls exposing residents’ rooms, video provided by CNN affiliate WBMA showed. The damage, tentatively attributed to a tornado, caused some displaced residents to seek shelter at a middle school, WBMA reported.

In nearby Hale County, in the small town of Akron, many trees and some homes were damaged. No injuries were immediately reported there, said Russell Weeden, director of emergency management for the county.

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Mississippi: A church tower was blown off and a grocery store damaged in the township of Steens, Lowndes County, Tuesday night, Cindy Lawrence, the county’s emergency management chief, told CNN.

Mississippi State University in Starkville briefly asked students to take shelter during a tornado warning Tuesday night. Earlier in the day, classes at two school campuses were being taught remotely and some dining rooms were closed over the threat. Regular operations are expected to resume on Wednesday, the university said.

A steeple was blown up from a church in the township of Steens, Mississippi, after a strong storm ripped through the area on Tuesday.

• Louisiana: Several homes were damaged in Caldwell Parish in northern Louisiana, where the National Weather Service reports a tornado is said to have hit Tuesday night, CNN affiliate KNOE reported. At least one home collapsed, with bricks, boxes, a mattress and other debris strewn around the area, KNOE video showed.

More than 54,000 power outages were reported in the Southeast as of Wednesday morning, including 41,000 in Alabama and 13,000 in Mississippi, according to utility tracker

Some parts of the South, including between Huntsville and Birmingham in Alabama, rained between 2 and 4 inches on Tuesday.

On Tuesday, the Storm Forecasting Center issued a rare “particularly hazardous situation” tornado watch, which is usually intended for the greatest severe storm threats. This clock was in effect for central Mississippi, northeast Louisiana, and southwest Arkansas until early Wednesday and has since expired.

The risk of thunderstorms remained on Wednesday morning. A tornado watch was in effect for portions of southern Alabama, the Florida Panhandle and far southwest Georgia through 11 a.m. CT.

“Thunderstorms capable of producing scattered damaging winds and a tornado or two will be possible in these areas Wednesday morning,” the Storm Prediction Center said.

Storm coverage and intensity is expected to decrease in southeastern Georgia and northern Florida throughout the afternoon.