Thunderstorms packing tornadoes, high winds and heavy rain raked the South on Friday, leaving thousands of people without power, destroying numerous homes and trapping some residents inside. At least 12 people were killed.
Three people died when a twister struck Lawndale, N.C., at about 7 p.m., "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 twister struck near the Cleveland-Lincoln county line and authorities initially reported that three people died in each county. Cleveland County officials later confirmed that there were no deaths in their jurisdiction.
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. And hail as big as baseballs fell near Lufkin in eastern Texas.
In New Orleans, the storm ripped at least one of the Jazz and Heritage Festival's big tents, blew others down and did some damage to 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 tents set up among food booths and craft exhibits - were canceled so crews could pull things back together. A concert scheduled Friday night was moved to the city's municipal auditorium.
At least two people died and several were injured in Spartanburg County, S.C., when tornadoes touched down in the evening, 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 that hit the western Kentucky city of West Louisville 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.