BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – Severe thunderstorms punching across the Southeast on Monday forced rescue crews in small boats and military trucks to rescue people trapped in an Alabama mobile home park and in cars flooded by a swollen creek.
The storms began spreading from Mississippi overnight into Alabama and Georgia. The system triggered scattered flash floods in the region, downing trees, causing power outages and snarling rush hour commutes.
South of Birmingham, police and firefighters used trucks and boats to reach at least a dozen people trapped in the mobile home park and in cars when they were surprised by flash flooding. Firefighters in life jackets waded through water rising nearly to their chests as they carried out the rescues. The muddy, fast-moving water was still rising at midmorning. Cars had water about window-high at an apartment complex and other low-lying areas in the suburb of Homewood.
Some roads in Birmingham became impassable, and schools delayed opening in many areas due to the heavy rains.
Alabama Power Co., the state's largest electric utility, reported 11,000 homes and businesses without power, with 6,200 in the Birmingham area. Many schools in central Alabama delayed their openings Monday due to heavy rains.
In Mississippi, TV stations reported that a 9-year-old girl was missing and feared swept away after flash floods in Yazoo City, with a search on for her in the Delta region northwest of Jackson. Search crews backed by volunteers were looking for her in drainage ditches and other areas where water remained, police Maj. Tilmon Clifton told broadcaster WLBT-TV.
Also in Mississippi, the Emergency Management Agency said a possible tornado damaged homes in Covington County, where seven minor injuries were reported. Wind damage also was reported elsewhere.
In metro Atlanta, heavy rains slowed traffic and some traffic lights were knocked out. The rains prompted flood warnings in several counties until Monday afternoon. Rain was expected to continue for much of the day.
Regionwide, the National Weather Service issued flash flood warnings, tornado warnings and severe thunderstorm warnings for several areas overnight and again later Monday.