NEW IBERIA, La. – Powerful storms killed at least two people, flooded streets and ripped apart homes as they swept from Louisiana through South Carolina.
Much of the worst damage on Friday was in Louisiana's Iberia Parish, where what appeared to be a tornado hit the New Iberia area just before 4 p.m. Thursday.
The storm killed a woman and 6-year-old girl in their home, the Iberia Parish Coroner's Office said, and at least 15 other people were injured.
Ten more people were hurt when the storm reached east-central Mississippi's Kemper County late Thursday and early Friday, according to the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency.
"There's more damage out here than what we initially thought," Ben Dudley, Kemper County's emergency management director, said after trips to communities of Blackwater and Damascus on Friday. "We're looking at eight to 10 homes destroyed and several with major damage."
Carnell Newton said most of those injured in Blackwater were his relatives — including a woman who suffered a head injury and was upgraded from critical to serious condition Friday.
"They were in a doublewide (mobile home) and it just exploded," Newton said.
Five more homes and businesses were damaged in southern Mississippi's Stone County.
In Alabama, several vacant mobile homes parked outside a mobile home plant in Hamilton were damaged and power lines were down, officials said. Trees were down across stretches of Georgia.
In northwest South Carolina, 15 people were injured outside an elementary school when a suspected tornado piled cars on top of each other Friday afternoon, officials said.
From a Louisiana hospital, Steven Bruno described how he was flipped over twice while furniture and glass flew around his mobile home on Thursday. His girlfriend, who is six months pregnant, was hospitalized for fetal monitoring, and the hospital gown he was wearing is now the only thing he owns, he said.
Whether his home and others in southern Louisiana were hit by a tornado won't be determined until storm surveys are conducted.
In New Orleans, city workers had been dispatched early to clean drains and prepare for possible flooding ahead of the heavy rain.
Southern Louisiana has been pounded by major storms that bumped its December rainfall total to more than 10 inches (25.4 centimeters), nearly twice the normal average, and forecasters on Friday warned that more rain was coming.