Residents clear trees, assess damage from southern storms
Southerners were clearing trees from roads and buildings as weather forecasters planned to survey damage from several possible tornadoes in Georgia and South Carolina, but said that effort could be interrupted by the potential for more storms Wednesday.
Tuesday's storms killed at least two people — one in Texas and another in Georgia — and left thousands of people without power across the South.
More than 7,000 customers in Texas and more than 5,000 in Georgia remained without power early Wednesday, according to PowerOutage.us, which tracks outages nationwide.
In Bryan County, Georgia, just west of Savannah, a state of emergency was declared and a curfew was in effect through early Wednesday morning to prevent trespassing in tornado-damaged areas near the communities of Pembroke and Ellabell.
A woman died Tuesday evening in Bryan County, where a suspected tornado ripped part of the roof from the Bryan County courthouse, destroyed the entrance to a local government building across the street and damaged homes in nearby neighborhoods, said Matthew Kent, a county government spokesperson. Several other people were injured in the county, he said.
In east Texas, W. M. Soloman, 71, died when storm winds toppled a tree onto his home in Whitehouse, about 100 miles (160 kilometers) southeast of Dallas, Whitehouse Mayor James Wansley said.
As the storms moved into South Carolina late Tuesday, debate was delayed for nearly an hour in the South Carolina legislature after the state House chamber was evacuated for a tornado warning for Columbia. The legislation being debated would require athletes to compete with the gender listed on their birth certificates.
In Alabama, the weather service said it was sending survey teams to examine potential tornado damage in the Wetumpka area. Lightning struck a flea market in the northern Alabama community of Lacey's Spring, causing a fire that gutted the building, news outlets reported.
In Mississippi, fallen trees and limbs closed a stretch of highway for hours in Newton County.
Several tornadoes are expected across a large part of the South on Wednesday, the national Storm Prediction Center said.
"The atmosphere will be primed again for more severe storms as we go through Wednesday," said Jared Guyer, a forecaster at the Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Oklahoma.
Parts of Georgia, Alabama and Tennessee will be at greatest risk of severe weather. That area of heightened risk includes several large cities, including Atlanta; Birmingham, Alabama; and Knoxville, Tennessee.