(CANTON, Texas) — At least seven people have been killed by tornadoes or flooding in the South and Midwest by a storm that also dumped a rare late-season blizzard in western Kansas on Sunday.
Tornadoes hit several small towns in East Texas, killing four people. Flooding swept away a car, drowning a woman in Missouri; a tree fell on a home killing a woman in Arkansas; and a death was reported in Sunday morning storms that raked Mississippi.
Flooding closed part of Interstate 44 near Hazelgreen, Missouri, and officials expected it would be at least a day before the highway reopened. Interstate 70 in western Kansas was closed because crews were waiting for snow falling at 3 to 4 inches (8 to 10 cm) an hour being blown by 35 mph (56 km/hr) winds to subside.
In Texas, search teams were going door to door Sunday after the tornadoes the day before flattened homes, uprooted trees and flipped several pickup trucks at a Dodge dealership in Canton.
“It is heartbreaking and upsetting to say the least,” Canton Mayor Lou Ann Everett told reporters at a news conference Sunday morning.
The storms cut a path of destruction 35 miles (56 kilometers) long and 15 miles (24 kilometers) wide in Van Zandt County, Everett said. The largely rural area is about 50 miles (80 kilometers) east of Dallas.
The first reports of tornadoes came about 4:45 p.m. Saturday, but emergency crews were hampered by continuing severe weather, said Judge Don Kirkpatrick, the chief executive for Van Zandt County.
“We’d be out there working and get a report of another tornado on the ground,” he said.
The storms rolled through Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama on Sunday with strong winds causing isolated pockets of damage. In Durant in central Mississippi on person died in the storms. The Mississippi Emergency Management Agency didn’t give details.
Alexa Haik went to bed Saturday night expecting just rain, but heard the sirens Sunday morning and turned on the television to see the tornado warning. She rounded up her pets and hid in a hallway with her family, then was stunned to emerge to trees down all in her neighborhood in Clinton, Mississippi, about 20 miles (32 km) west of Jackson.
A trip up the road showed how isolated the worst of the storms were. “I really thought when we got out of our neighborhood, there would be damage everywhere. But our little subdivision was the only one hit,” Haik said.
More storms hit Arkansas on Saturday, killing a 65-year-old woman in DeWitt in the eastern part of the state who was struck in her home by a falling tree, officials said.
Farther north, the storms were causing massive flooding. Near Clever in southwestern Missouri, a man tried to save his 72-year-old wife from floodwaters that swept away their vehicle Saturday, but her body was found when the water receded, the Missouri State Highway Patrol said.