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Severe storms slam US South, killing at least 4

December 24, 2014

COLUMBIA, Mississippi (AP) — Power companies managed to restore electricity to thousands of people in Mississippi on Wednesday, a day after a powerful storm swept through the southeastern U.S. and killed four people.

About 6,000 people were without power after the storm Tuesday but most had service restored or were expected to have service Wednesday, Gov. Phil Bryant said at a news conference.

Mississippi Power told The Associated Press about 300 customers were still without electricity by midday Wednesday, but most would have power by the end of the day.

Bryant, who toured the stricken area by helicopter and by vehicle before the news conference, said state emergency officials believe the destruction was caused by a tornado, although the National Weather Service in Jackson has not confirmed that yet.

State emergency workers were still evaluating the damage. Four people were killed in storm, including three who died in mobile homes. Another person was killed at a business.

Some 40 businesses and 30 homes were damaged in Columbia county, Bryant said. About 10 to 15 buildings were damaged in more rural areas.

Police in Columbia were stationed at all major intersections after traffic lights were either swept away or destroyed amid Tuesday’s powerful storms. At least 20 people were injured, according to Mississippi Emergency Management Agency officials.

The roof was ripped off the building of the Jack Morris Gas Co., a natural gas supplier.

In Alabama, authorities said thunderstorms left trees and power lines down across the state and flooded several roads.

The National Weather Service issued a tornado watch in south Georgia as thunderstorms continued in many parts of the state. A tornado watch was issued for parts of northern Florida. A flood warning was issued for Lawrence County in Alabama and Tangipahoa Parish in Louisiana.