ATHENS, Ala. – Officials said seven deaths were being reported Monday night from a severe weather system blowing through the South, one day after a massive storm system tore through the Southeast, claiming 17 lives. In Athens, Ala., spokeswoman Holly Hollman said Limestone County Sheriff Mike Blakeley reported two deaths at a mobile home park west of that northern Alabama city Monday.
Also, Limestone County Commissioner Bill Latimer told the Associated Press that four people were dead in his district southeast of Athens.
In Mississippi, Lee County Coroner Carolyn Gillentine Green confirmed a woman died Monday when her car either hydroplaned or blew off a road during the storm in Verona, south of Tupelo.
Monday’s deaths occurred the day after a half-mile-wide tornado carved an 80-mile path of destruction through the Little Rock suburbs Sunday evening, killing at least 15 people.
Officials said the death toll could have been worse if residents hadn’t piled into underground storm shelters and fortified safe rooms after listening to forecasts on TV and radio, getting cellphone alerts or calls or texts from loved ones, and hearing sirens blare through their neighborhoods.
Kimber Standridge and a friend had gathered up seven children they were watching and sped through the streets just minutes before the twister hit.
“When they shut the doors, we knew it was on us,” Standridge said.
“Everybody hunkered down. There were a lot of people doing prayer circles, holding hands and praying.”
Standridge said the shelter was so solid they barely felt or heard the tornado.
It was among a rash of twisters and violent storms across the Midwest and South that killed 17 people in all on Sunday.