Midwest Storms Leave 9 Dead

Sara Newman watches as flood waters rise around her home in Hopkinsville, Ky., Saturday, Sept. 23, 2006, after several inches of rain fell in the area. Newman just moved into the house three weeks ago. (AP Photo/The Leaf-Chronicle,Robert Smith)
AP Photo
High winds, heavy rain and tornadoes pounded parts of the Midwest and the South, leaving at least nine people dead, stranding people in cars, forcing others from their homes, and leaving thousands without power.

The death toll in Kentucky on Saturday reached eight, including a father and his 1-year-old daughter in a truck that skidded into floodwaters. In Arkansas, a woman whose boat was struck by lightning died and authorities were searching for two missing people.

Officials urged people to stay off the roads as forecasters warned of more stormy weather to come.

"We have a lot of people driving past the high water signs and they are getting stuck," Kentucky State Police dispatcher John Reynolds said. "We are telling people if they can avoid going out, they ought to."

The National Weather Service reported that areas of Kentucky received at least 5 inches of rain, with isolated regions getting close to 10 inches. Over 24 hours, sections of Vanderburgh County, Indiana, received 4-6 inches, and parts of northeast Arkansas and southeast Missouri received more than 10 inches of rain, the weather service reported.

Flooding forced over 100 people to flee an apartment complex for shelter at a nearby high school, officials said. Portions of Interstate 64 just east of Louisville were closed in both directions due to standing water. Meanwhile, the storms left thousands of Kentuckians without power.

Maggie DiPietro, 58, said she woke up shortly after 2 a.m. Saturday and found about 2 inches of water in her home.

"By the time the police came and rescued me, it was almost up to my calves," she said.

Elsewhere, a tornado touched down Saturday night in Kent County in western Michigan, peeling off the roof of a barn, overturning vehicles and damaging businesses, according to the weather service. No injuries were reported.

In central and eastern Missouri on Saturday, hundreds were without homes or power a day after a storm churned up about 10 tornadoes and drenched some parts of the state with as much as a foot of rain. Nearly 400 structures were damaged or destroyed and at least 10 people were injured, said Susie Stonner, a state emergency management spokeswoman.

In Arkansas, four northern counties declared emergencies Saturday after severe flooding. Two people were believed missing in Sharp County, hardest hit by the storms, although the sheriff's office would not confirm the number or provide further details about the daylong search.

Emily Taylor, a state emergency management spokeswoman, said a tornado touched down 5 miles outside Ash Flat, damaging 12 homes and destroying two others. Two people were taken to a hospital for minor injuries.