Battered Southeast faces more tornadoes, storms; Mississippi mourns, struggles to recover: Live updates
A wide swath of the Southeast braced for another round of potentially deadly tornadoes and severe storms Monday, three days after a line of tornadoes killed more than 20 people in Mississippi.
In addition to flood watches and warnings, a severe thunderstorm watch was also in effect for parts of Alabama, Georgia and South Carolina until 6 p.m. Bands of storms were moving eastward within a corridor between I-20 and I-85 across the three states, the National Weather Service said.
The weather service office in Birmingham, Alabama, warned of heavy rainfall and frequent lightning.
"Although a marginal threat, large hail and damaging winds are possible," the office tweeted.
Strong storms produced damage in areas west and south of Atlanta on Sunday, bringing hail to many in the metro area and causing roads to close because of fallen debris.
The new watches and warnings came as residents in the Mississippi Delta, one of the poorest areas in the nation, struggled to pick up the pieces Monday after Friday evening's violent weather. At least 21 people died in Mississippi and one in Alabama.
Entire towns were decimated; hundreds of residents have been displaced; homes and businesses were destroyed.
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►The Storm Prediction Center said the area at greatest risk of damaging winds into Monday afternoon is expected from southern South Carolina to southeast Georgia.
►FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell spent much of Sunday in Mississippi, assessing damages and checking on survivors. "We will continue to support the state as they recover from these devastating tornadoes in the days and months ahead," she tweeted.
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Death toll revised downward
On Monday, the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency revised the state’s death toll from the tornado to 21, down from 25. The agency said the new number is based on deaths confirmed by coroners. MEMA spokeswoman Allie Jasper said the agency does not know of any people still reported missing and not found.
Hundreds of structures destroyed
Preliminary assessments show that 313 structures in Mississippi were destroyed and more than 1,000 structures were affected in some way, FEMA said in a briefing to emergency managers Monday.
Mississippi opened more than a half-dozen shelters to temporarily house people displaced by the tornado.
Killer tornado traveled 59 miles
The deadly EF-4 tornado that devastated Rolling Fork, Mississippi, was on the ground for about 59.4 miles, the weather service said, beginning in northern Issaquena County and ending in northern Holmes County. It lasted for 1 hour and 10 minutes and had maximum winds estimated at 170 mph. At its largest, the weather service said the tornado was 3/4 of a mile wide.
Georgia targeted for more storms Monday
A strong front will push waves of showers and thunderstorms across north and central Georgia on Monday, the weather service said. The state weather offices' Twitter feeds were rolling out storm and tornado warnings almost every minute.
The tornado warnings wrapped up around 8 a.m., but the threat of severe thunderstorms and flooding remained. Additional rainfall totals of 1 to 3 inches are expected, and locally higher amounts over 3 inches are possible. This on top of widespread heavy rainfall that has already fallen in recent days. Gov. Brian Kemp issued a state of emergency.
" As we continue to monitor the weather and work with local partners to address damage throughout the day, I ask all Georgians to join us in praying for those impacted," Kemp said.
Mississippi cleanup doused by more storms
The National Weather Service office in Jackson, Mississippi, retweeted photos of hail almost as big as baseballs that fell Sunday while search and rescue teams picked through the rubble left by the weekend tornadoes.
More than 20 people died in a Mississippi twister Friday night, wiping out entire blocks of homes and businesses in the town of Rolling Fork. Mayor Eldridge Walker is the town's funeral director. Part of the funeral home has roof damage and the windows were blown out, but the building is structurally sound, he said.
"The daughter of one of the victims called and told me, 'You're going to have to help me get through this,'" he said.
"The devastation here in Rolling Fork is heartbreaking," Gov. Tate Reeves said Sunday. "Thankful to our federal partners for being here on the ground to see the impact of this tornado. The character and generosity of Mississippians is on full display with the countless volunteers and donations being offered."
Contributing: Lici Beveridge, Hattiesburg American; The Associated Press
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Severe weather live updates: Southeast braces for more tornadoes