Lee’s remnants spawn Ga. twisters
Monday, September 5, 2011
ATLANTA (AP) — The slow-moving remnants of Tropical Storm Lee dumped rain across the South and whipped up twisters that damaged dozens of Georgia homes as the system pushed farther inland on Monday. One death was reported, and at least one person was injured.
In Mississippi, a man was swept away by floodwaters after trying to cross a swollen creek, the first death caused by flooding or winds from Lee. The system was sweeping through Alabama and pushing into Tennessee and Georgia by the afternoon.
Suspected twisters ripped off siding and shingles and sent trees crashing through roofs in Cherokee County, about 30 miles north of Atlanta. The Georgia Emergency Management Agency said about 100 homes were damaged there. One man was taken to the hospital with superficial injuries after he was hit by flying debris.
In other parts of the state, six families were evacuated from a Catoosa County apartment building because of flooding, while slick roads caused an 18-car pileup in Monroe County. No one was injured in those cases.
In areas of Louisiana and Mississippi that took the brunt of the storm over the weekend, at least 16,000 people remained without power as of Monday afternoon. Lee’s center came ashore Sunday in Louisiana, dumping up to a foot of rain in parts of New Orleans and other areas. Despite some street flooding, officials said New Orleans’ 24-pump flood control system was doing its job.
Heavy rain continued to fall in Mississippi on Monday, and a swollen creek near an apartment complex in Jackson prompted officials to move 45 families into a storm shelter. In Louisiana’s Livingston Parish, about 200 families were evacuated because of flooding.
The man who died in Mississippi, 57-year-old John Howard Anderson Jr., had been in a car with two other people trying to cross a rain-swollen creek on Sunday night. Tishomingo County Coroner Mack Wilemon said Anderson was outside of the car and couldn’t hold onto a rope thrown by a would-be rescuer.
Elsewhere, the heavy rain made for a dud of a Labor Day holiday as Gulf Coast beaches mostly cleared of tourists.
The storm was expected to move up the Tennessee River Valley on Tuesday, and forecasters have warned people to be on the lookout for tornadoes.
Several already had been reported, including one that damaged five homes in Harrison County.
Rain already had started falling in Tennessee, though no campers had been evacuated from Great Smoky Mountain National Park, officials said.
The rain had stopped out in the Gulf of Mexico, allowing oil and gas production platforms and rigs to look for damage and get operations kick started again on Monday. Federal regulators said evacuations had shut in about 61 percent of oil production and 46 percent of natural gas production in the Gulf.
Residents in Lee’s wake are worrying about the effects of soggy ground. Part of a levee holding back a lake in Mississippi’s Rankin County gave way, endangering some homes and a sod farm. Rankin County Road Manager George Bobo said officials could order evacuations of the few homes if the situation gets worse. The indention left by the levee slide didn’t go all the way through to the water, though.
Sharon Spears, a 54-year-old special education teacher, stood in her front yard Monday looking up at the red dirt exposed from the levee slide.
“I’m concerned,” Spears said. “I won’t sleep any tonight.”
Sandy Shamburger said a full breach would ruin his sod farm.
“It would be devastating. It would probably be the end of Rankin Sod,” he said.