Severe storms in Southeast states cause deaths, damage

ATLANTA Tue Apr 5, 2011 11:25am EDT

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ATLANTA (Reuters) - Severe storms blowing across the Southeast killed at least five people in Georgia early on Tuesday, and also were to blame for deaths in two other states, authorities said.

In Jackson, Georgia, about 40 miles south of Atlanta, a tree fell on a duplex apartment killing a father and his 3-year-old son, said David Dunn, a fire captain.

"They were in bed together and a tree fell," said Dunn. "There was another child in bed with them who escaped unharmed."

The mother, who was in another bedroom, also was uninjured, Dunn said.

In Dodge County, about 140 miles south of Atlanta, winds lifted a doublewide home off its foundation, killing one man inside, said Sheriff's Department spokesman Captain Tony Winborn.

The mobile home was "ripped apart by the strong winds and scattered throughout a field," said Winborn.

Christopher McNair, 45, was found dead beneath the debris, said Winborn, who said it was not yet known whether the damage was caused by a tornado or high winds.

There were also storm-related deaths in Atlanta and in Colquitt County, according to media reports.

Early Tuesday, 132,000 Georgia Power Co. customers were without power, including 48,000 in metro Atlanta, said utility spokeswoman Carol Boatwright.

Winds, hail and tornadoes were reported across the Southeast, toppling trees, downing power lines and damaging buildings.

A driver was killed Monday evening in southern Mississippi after running into a tree that had fallen across a road during the storms, said Rick Stevens, emergency operator for Copiah County.

In Memphis, Tennessee, an 87-year-old man died after being electrocuted by a downed power line that he picked up while clearing debris around his home, Tennessee Emergency Management Agency officials said.

Officials said 75,000 customers in Nashville and 60,000 customers in Memphis were without power during the peak of the storm Monday night, and many still didn't have power on Tuesday.

Some schools in counties around Nashville were closed on Tuesday. One high school west of Nashville sustained damage from winds that reportedly reached 80 to 85 miles per hour.

(Additional reporting by Colleen Jenkins and Timothy Ghianni; Editing by Jerry Norton)

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