(Reuters) - At least five people were killed and dozens were injured after tornadoes tore through the U.S. South overnight and into Wednesday, leaving emergency crews scrambling to save lives and assess damage.
The National Weather Service (NWS) issued tornado warnings for parts of Alabama, Florida and Georgia until 6 p.m. EST. Warnings in Mississippi, Tennessee and Louisiana were lifted earlier on Wednesday.
The storms killed three people in Rosalie, a small community in northeastern Alabama, where at least one tornado was reported, the NWS said.
A husband and wife were killed in Tennessee’s Polk County, the state’s Emergency Management Agency said in a statement. More than two dozen people have been injured in the state, including at least 23 people in McMinn County, it said.
In Ider, Alabama, several teenagers were hospitalized after a tornado flattened a closed daycare center they were using for shelter, said DeKalb County Sheriff Jimmy Harris, clarifying earlier reports that the injured were young children.
Ten people in the county were injured, including two critically, and emergency crews were working to account for all residents, Harris said.
The storm systems also destroyed homes and businesses, downed power lines and snapped trees.
Several thousand homes were without electricity, local power companies said. Schools in counties across affected areas canceled classes due to the outages and structural damage.
Images posted on social media showed giant twisters reaching down into residential neighborhoods and at least one waterspout spinning offshore in the beach town of Destin, Florida, on Wednesday afternoon. Others showed bashed-in houses in Athens, Georgia and toppled electrical pylons in Ocoee, Tennessee.
Damage assessment teams from the NWS were surveying the affected areas throughout the day, it said.
Reporting by Brendan O'Brien in Milwaukee; Editing by Will Dunham and Jeffrey Benkoe