South Raked by Tornadoes; at Least 12 Die; Scores Hurt

From Associated Press

At least 12 people were killed Friday when thunderstorms packing tornadoes, high winds and heavy rain raked the South, trapping some residents inside their destroyed homes and leaving thousands of people without power.

Three died when a twister struck Lawndale, N.C., “leveling homes and everything in its path,” said Gene Morrison of the Lawndale Rescue Squad. Seventeen people were injured, some seriously, he said.

“It’s like you took a chain saw and cut down all the trees and leveled all the houses,” said Bill Seagle, a member of the Upper Cleveland Rescue Squad. “Cars were thrown all over the place.”


The storms, which followed major damage Thursday in Texas and Louisiana, also ripped up houses and downed trees and power lines in South Carolina, Kentucky, Georgia, Mississippi and Alabama.

Concert Tents Damaged

In New Orleans, the storm ripped at least one of the Jazz and Heritage Festival’s big tents, blew others down and damaged nearly all of the 10 stages and tents where 140,000 people gathered over three days last weekend, said spokeswoman Anna Zimmerman.

Friday’s daytime activities--including dozens of concerts on stages and in tents set up among food booths and craft exhibits--were canceled to allow crews to make repairs.

At least two people died and several were injured in Spartanburg County, S.C., when tornadoes touched down, authorities said.

In Gainesville, Ga., a tornado hit near Interstate 985, injuring at least nine people, most in auto accidents, Civil Defense Director Bill Banks said. Two victims were in critical condition.

“We had at least two vehicles blown into the woods upside down, one van and one automobile,” said Reggie Forrester, Hall County public safety director. “We had a van upside down on the entrance ramp. . . . We had several other vehicles blown around and overturned.”


Another twister in western Kentucky destroyed one house and damaged four others.

In North Carolina, four people trapped in a house were rescued, but two were seriously injured, authorities said. Others were reportedly trapped in vehicles.

Late Thursday, several tornadoes roared through the north Texas town of Granbury, sending 22 people to a hospital for treatment of minor injuries.

Hood County Sheriff Edwin Tomlinson said at least 15 trailers and homes were destroyed, with about 200 others damaged. But Red Cross spokesman Richard Hensley said 65 trailers and houses were destroyed.

Wind speeds of near 100 m.p.h. were reported Thursday in thunderstorms in Texas from Dallas County to near Waco, the Weather Service said.

The weather also was blamed for one death in Oklahoma and six in Texas, most of them drownings. One man whose truck was found in a Texas creek was missing.

About 255,000 customers in north-central and eastern Texas lost electricity because of the storms, and 27,500 remained without power late Friday, said Dave Fiorelli, a senior engineer for Texas Utilities Electric in Dallas. He said it was the greatest number of disruptions he could remember since a January, 1979, ice storm paralyzed northern Texas.


Power lines were extensively damaged in Louisiana. Officials of Louisiana Power & Light Co. worked throughout Friday to return power to some 12,000 homes statewide.