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Death toll in Southeast storm rises as states brace for more

Violent weather is being blamed for the deaths of at least 17 people across the South this week
Violent weather is being blamed for the death... 02:32

BIRMINGHAM, Alabama -- The death toll due to severe storms climbed to 26 on Saturday after less than a week of tumultuous weather -- unusual warmth, tornadoes and torrential downpours -- sparked flooding and caused damage that wreaked havoc during the Christmas holiday.

Two deaths attributable to weather were reported Saturday in Mississippi: two people who have been missing since Wednesday, bringing that state's death toll to 10. Late Saturday, one death was reported in Alabama.

Around 10:30 p.m. Saturday, City of Garland spokesman Dan Bach said five people in the Texas city had been confirmed dead following the storms, reports CBS Dallas-Fort Worth.

Three people have been confirmed dead in Collin County, according to Chris Havey with the Collin County Sheriff's Office. An infant died in Blue Ridge, and two died in Copeville. All three deaths are related to the storms.

Tornadoes swept through the Dallas area after dark on Saturday evening causing significant damage while a blizzard was blanketing parts of New Mexico and West Texas with snow, the latest in the nation's freakish winter weather pattern that sent temperatures plunging to near zero wind chill in the western Plains even as numerous record highs are forecast for the eastern U.S.

Flood water from the Catoma Creek running on Dumas Street in Montgomery, Ala., begins to recede Saturday, Dec. 26, 2015. Albert Cesare/The Montgomery Advertiser via AP

The Texas tornadoes shifted the national focus away from the Southeast where days of tumultuous weather including tornadoes left 18 people dead over the Christmas holiday period.

National Weather Service Meteorologist Anthony Bain in Fort Worth said two or possibly three tornadoes touched down in the Dallas area although the full extent of damage would not be known until daylight Sunday.

The emergency manager for a county south of Dallas says some homes have been destroyed and damaged during a fierce storm that spawned tornadoes in the area.

Stephanie Parker is the emergency manager for Ellis County, which is about 30 miles south of Dallas. She posted on twitter: "We have destroyed and damaged homes. Please do not get out on the roads if you do not have to."

The National Weather Service in Fort Worth confirmed that a tornado touched down south of Dallas earlier this evening.

An official with the Dallas County Sheriff's office says deputies are responding to damages caused by a tornado east of Dallas, including a trailer park ablaze.

Spokeswoman Melinda Urbina said while several emergency teams had been dispatched to Sunnyvale, just east of the Dallas city limits, following reports of trailers on fire and possible injuries in a mobile home park.

Urbina said the extent of the damage was still uncertain but that nearby roads had been shut due to debris and that the damage to the homes was likely extensive enough to render some "inhabitable." The Red Cross was also responding to the scene, she said, and trees were down.

Back in Mississippi, Mississippi Emergency Management Agency spokesman Greg Flynn said 56 injuries were reported. In a statement, Flynn said preliminary damage estimates show 241 homes were destroyed or severely damaged.

More than 400 homes in total were affected, he said.

One of those homes belonged to Kenya Williams since childhood, but now has lost its roof and half its walls, reports CBS News correspondent Mark Strassmann. But she has perspective -- of the 10 Mississippi residents who were killed in the last week, six of them were her neighbors.

"My 72-year-old blind, disabled dad was in this house when the tornado hit, so for him to come out with just a bump and scratch on his head, on his forehead, with no broken bones, not severely hurt, didn't have to go to the ICU, I'm good with that," Williams told CBS News.

Severe storms are forecast for Sunday night through Monday as a strong cold front pushes through. Tornadoes are possible, and residents are asked to remain alert.

The flooding is the result of heavy downpours that have thrashed the southeastern U.S. since Wednesday, bringing record rainfalls in some areas. Four inches of rain walloped the city of Mobile, Alabama, on Wednesday -- smashing the previous record of 2.2 inches set in 1990.

Six people were killed in Tennessee, including three who were found in a car submerged in a creek, according to the Columbia Police Department. The Tennessee Emergency Management Agency said Saturday that authorities were monitoring areas for possible flooding.

One person died in Arkansas, and dozens of homes were damaged or destroyed.

Tanager Tyler and son Mitchell look over a vehicle, Saturday, Dec. 26, 2015, that wound up in the culvert of their driveway after floodwaters swept it and its four occupants off the road during the previous night, in Pinson, Ala. The occupants had to be rescued by the fire department. Hal Yeager, AP

In Alabama, Gov. Robert Bentley on Saturday visited weather-damaged areas in Coffee County. A statement from the governor's office said that about 190 roads across Alabama were closed due to flooding.

Authorities on Saturday recovered the body of a 5-year-old boy who drowned after the car he was riding in was submerged by floodwaters on Friday, said Coffee County Coroner Robert Preachers. The search is ongoing for a 22-year-old man who was also in the car.

The National Weather Service in Huntsville warned residents to avoid driving in areas where flooding was expected.

A flood warning was in effect late Saturday afternoon for parts of northern Alabama.

A tornado touched down in Birmingham on Friday evening, but damage was limited.

Peak tornado season in the South is in the spring, but such storms can happen at any time. Exactly a year ago, tornadoes hit Mississippi, killing five people and injuring dozens.

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