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Powerful storms slam parts of Florida, North Carolina, other states as cleanup from earlier tornadoes continues

Destructive winds hit South amid severe storms
Florida Panhandle residents deal with aftermath of destructive winds 02:11

Powerful storms with damaging high winds threatened several states in the Southeast early Friday, as residents elsewhere in the U.S. cleared debris from deadly severe weather that produced twisters in Michigan, Tennessee and other states.

Storms rolled into Tallahassee, Florida, where numerous trees were toppled around the state's capital city, authorities said Friday. Wind gusts of 71 mph were recorded by a weather station near the State Capitol Complex, the National Weather Service reported. Florida State University announced its campuses in Tallahassee were closed Friday due to the severe weather. Nonessential personnel, students and visitors should avoid campuses in Tallahassee until further notice, the school said in a social media post.

The city of Tallahassee said on social media platform X that "possible tornadic activity" caused the widespread damage in the Florida capital, especially to electric lines and numerous downed trees. The city said more than 66,000 customers are without electric service, and 11 substations were damaged by the storm.

"Restoration will possibly take through the weekend," the announcement said.

Residents of an apartment complex try to clear Old St. Augustine Road of trees and debris in Tallahassee, Fla., Friday, May 10, 2024. Powerful storms with damaging high winds threatened several states in the Southeast early Friday. Phil Sears / AP

Strong thunderstorms also were expected in Alabama near the Florida panhandle, where gusty winds could knock down tree limbs, the weather service said.

In Mississippi's capital city of Jackson, authorities on Friday were asking residents to conserve water after a power outage at one of its major water treatment plants. JXN Water, the local water utility, said in a statement that customers can expect reduced water pressure as workers assess damages due to storms that rolled through the region overnight. The weather service said Hickory Hills and surrounding areas near the coast were likely to get severe weather Friday morning, and that hail with the potential to damage vehicles was expected.

More than 320,000 homes and businesses across the South, from Mississippi to North Carolina, were without electricity Friday morning, according to the website Most of those outages were in Florida, where lights and air conditioning were out for more than 180,000 customers.

Several tornado warnings and watches were issued by the National Weather Service on Friday morning, but were lifted by midday as the threat shifted to damaging high winds. Since Monday, 39 states have been under threat of severe weather and at least four people have died. On Wednesday and Thursday, about 220 million people were under some sort of severe weather risk, said Matthew Elliott, a Storm Prediction Center forecaster.

Fatalities, injuries after severe weather's destructive path

A storm was blamed for killing a 22-year-old man in a car in Claiborne County, north of Knoxville, officials said. A second person was killed south of Nashville in Columbia, the seat of Maury County, where officials said a tornado with 140 mph  winds damaged or destroyed more than 100 homes.

Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee said the woman who died in Maury County was in a mobile home that was thrown several feet into a wooded area. Lee visited emergency managers and Tennessee Department of Transportation officials in the storm-stricken area Thursday.

Torrential rains led to a flash flood emergency and water rescues northeast of Nashville, and the weather service issued a tornado emergency, its highest alert level, for nearby areas.

A 10-year-old boy was seriously injured in Christiana, southeast of Nashville, when he got caught in a storm drain and swept under streets while playing with other children as adults cleared debris, his father, Rutherford County Schools Superintendent Jimmy Sullivan, posted on social media.

Severe Weather Tennesee
A storm damaged building is seen along Blackburn Lane, Thursday, May 9, 2024, in Columbia, Tenn. Severe storms tore through the central and southeast U.S., Wednesday, spawning damaging tornadoes, producing massive hail, and killing two people in Tennessee. George Walker IV / AP

The boy, Asher, emerged in a drainage ditch and survived after being given CPR, "but the damage is substantial," Sullivan posted on Facebook, asking for prayers.

"Asher needs a miracle," Sullivan wrote.

Dozens of people gathered at the school district's offices for a prayer vigil Thursday. They bowed their heads and closed their eyes in prayer, and they sang "Amazing Grace" together.

Schools were closed Thursday and Friday in Rutherford and Maury. In Georgia, some districts north of Atlanta canceled in-person classes or delayed start times because of storm damage overnight that included fallen trees on houses and vehicles around Clarkesville. No injuries were reported there.

Both the Plains and Midwest have been hammered by tornadoes this spring.

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