Storms Wallop South; Death Toll Hits 17

Tornadoes claim victims in Oklahoma, Arkansas, Alabama
By Polly Davis Doig,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 16, 2011 7:42 AM CDT

(Newser) – A total of seven people have been killed in violent storms in Alabama, bringing the total death toll to 17 as a devastating storm system works its way across the South. A spate of tornadoes ripped through towns, tossing mobile homes around like toys. "The tornado hit and jumped and hit and jumped again," says an Alabama official. "It would do some damage and then move on." Deaths have been reported in Oklahoma and Arkansas.

Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley declared a state of emergency for the entire state, reports the AP, and the first race of a busy weekend at the Talladega Superspeedway was postponed until this morning. "I don't recall anything even approaching this," said Arkansas Gov. Mike Beebe. "We're trying to salvage what we can," said one woman in Oklahoma after high winds blew a pickup truck into the side of her house. "It's devastating. It's just horrible. Thank God we have so much help." (Read more severe weather stories.)

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