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Tornadoes pummel Alabama, killing at least 3

Deadly tornadoes roared through Alabama on Thursday, toppling trees, demolishing homes and knocking out power to thousands, part of a broad swath of violent weather sweeping across the Deep South. At least three fatalities and an unknown number of injuries were reported.

Firefighters said a family was able to safely escape their toppled home in the Eagle Point subdivision, near Birmingham. In the nearby city of Pelham, also in Shelby County, authorities posted video and photos showing large trees blocking roads and damaged utility poles leaning menacingly over streets littered with debris from badly damaged homes. More than 20,000 customers were without power in Alabama.

“We can confirm local residential structures have been completely destroyed,” Shelby County, Alabama, Sheriff John Samaniego told The Associated Press in an email.

Damage is seen to a home after a tornado passed through the Eagle Point subdivision, Thursday, March 25, 2021, near Birmingham, Ala. (AP PhotoButch Dill)

Search and rescue efforts were complicated as strong weather continued to rake across the region.

“We have been told to be prepared for another round of storms,” said Maj. Clay Hammac of the Shelby County sheriff’s department.

Forecasters warned of dangerous thunderstorms, flash floods and possible twisters from eastern Mississippi into western Georgia, and northward into Tennessee and Kentucky. Flash flood warnings and watches extended to the western Carolinas. Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey issued an emergency declaration for 46 counties as the severe weather approached, and officials opened shelters in and around Birmingham.

A house is totally destroyed after a tornado touches down south of Birmingham, Ala. in the Eagle Point community damaging multiple homes, Thursday, March 25, 2021. Authorities reported major tornado damage Thursday south of Birmingham as strong storms moved through the state. The governor issued an emergency declaration as meteorologists warned that more twisters were likely on their way. (AP PhotoButch Dill)

Up to 4 inches (10 centimeters) of rain — with higher amounts possible — is expected in northern Alabama, according to the National Weather Service in Huntsville.

State troopers closed all lanes of a section of Interstate 65 near Cullman after floodwaters covered the roadway. The highway was reopened later in the day.

Mississippi also had a storm-related death on Wednesday. Ester Jarrell, 62, died when a large tree toppled over onto her mobile home after heavy rain soaked the ground, a Wilkinson County official told The Associated Press.

A firefighters survey damage to a house where the family was trapped, but were able to get out after a tornado touches down south of Birmingham, Ala., in the Eagle Point community damaging multiple homes Thursday, March 25, 2021. (AP PhotoButch Dill)

Damage is seen to a home after a tornado passed through the Eagle Point subdivision, Thursday, March 25, 2021, near Birmingham, Ala. (AP PhotoButch Dill)

Damage is seen to a home after a tornado passed through the Eagle Point subdivision, Thursday, March 25, 2021, near Birmingham, Ala. (AP PhotoButch Dill)

A firefighter surveys damage to a house where the family was trapped, but were able to get out after a tornado touches down south of Birmingham, Ala. in the Eagle Point community damaging multiple homes Thursday, March 25, 2021. Authorities reported major tornado damage Thursday south of Birmingham as strong storms moved through the state. The governor issued an emergency declaration as meteorologists warned that more twisters were likely on their way. (AP PhotoButch Dill)

A firefighter works with residents to remove fallen trees blocking roads for rescue crews to get past after a tornado touched down south of Birmingham, Ala. in the Eagle Point community damaging multiple homes., Thursday, March 25, 2021. Authorities reported major tornado damage Thursday south of Birmingham as strong storms moved through the state. The governor issued an emergency declaration as meteorologists warned that more twisters were likely on their way. (AP PhotoButch Dill)

A firefighter surveys damage after a tornado touches down south of Birmingham, Ala., in the Eagle Point community damaging multiple homes Thursday, March 25, 2021. (AP PhotoButch Dill)

A firefighter marks a board after he cleared a home from a tornado that touched down south of Birmingham, Ala. in the Eagle Point community damaging multiple homes Thursday, March 25, 2021. Authorities reported major tornado damage Thursday south of Birmingham as strong storms moved through the state. The governor issued an emergency declaration as meteorologists warned that more twisters were likely on their way. (AP PhotoButch Dill)

Residents cut away debris after a tornado touches down south of Birmingham, Ala. in the Eagle Point community damaging multiple homes, Thursday, March 25, 2021. Authorities reported major tornado damage Thursday south of Birmingham as strong storms moved through the state. The governor issued an emergency declaration as meteorologists warned that more twisters were likely on their way. (AP PhotoButch Dill)

Trees sit uprooted along SR 31 after a tornado came through on a day of extended severe weather, Thursday, March 25, 2021, in Pelham, Ala. (AP PhotoVasha Hunt)

Trees sit uprooted along SR 31 after a tornado came though on a day of extended severe weather, Thursday, March 25, 2021, in Pelham, Ala. The National Weather Service issued multiple tornado warnings in Alabama and surrounding states where forecasters said conditions were ripe for “long-track strong tornadoes.” Thousands were without electricity after strong winds knocked down power lines. (AP PhotoVasha Hunt)

Residents work to remove fallen trees blocking roads for rescue crews to get past after a tornado touches down south of Birmingham, Ala. in the Eagle Point community damaging multiple homes Thursday, March 25, 2021.. Authorities reported major tornado damage Thursday south of Birmingham as strong storms moved through the state. The governor issued an emergency declaration as meteorologists warned that more twisters were likely on their way. (AP PhotoButch Dill)

Workers at Cahaba Tractor work to protect the damaged roof of the business after being hit by a tornado on a day of extended severe weather, Thursday, March 25, 2021, in Pelham, Ala. (AP PhotoVasha Hunt)

A firefighter marks a house after a tornado touches down south of Birmingham, Ala., in the Eagle Point community damaging multiple homes Thursday, March 25, 2021. The National Weather Service issued multiple tornado warnings for Alabama and surrounding states. (AP PhotoButch Dill)

4 Wheel Parts on SR 31 is littered with debris after a direct hit from a tornado on a day of extended severe weather, Thursday, March 25, 2021, in Pelham, Ala. People inside were unharmed. (AP PhotoVasha Hunt)

Workers board up damage to BedZZZExpress on SR 31 after a tornado hit on a day of extended severe weather, Thursday, March 25, 2021, in Pelham, Ala. The National Weather Service issued multiple tornado warnings in Alabama and surrounding states where forecasters said conditions were ripe for “long-track strong tornadoes.” Thousands were without electricity after strong winds knocked down power lines. (AP PhotoVasha Hunt)

Police respond to a downed tree across 1st Ave W on a day of extended severe weather, Thursday, March 25, 2021, in Helena, Ala. The National Weather Service issued multiple tornado warnings in Alabama and surrounding states where forecasters said conditions were ripe for “long-track strong tornadoes.” Thousands were without electricity after strong winds knocked down power lines. (AP PhotoVasha Hunt)