April 8, 2014 10:39:48 AM
BIRMINGHAM -- Severe thunderstorms dumped heavy rains across the Southeast on Monday and caused flash flooding in central Alabama, where crews in small boats and military trucks had to rescue dozens of people from their homes and cars.
In Mississippi, a 9-year-old girl was swept away and killed after the storms dropped nearly 7 inches of rain there over the last two days. Patrauna Hudson, was last seen playing in floodwater near her parents' house around 7 p.m. Sunday in Yazoo City, the Delta region northwest of Jackson. Yazoo County Director of Emergency Management Joey Ward said her body was found Monday night.
Ward said a neighbor saw her wash into a culvert.
A possible tornado in another part of the state damaged homes and hurt seven people, and a motorist in metro Atlanta was found dead after driving into a creek swollen with rainwater.
Strong winds downed trees, power lines and snarled rush hour commutes. In Pelham, just south of Birmingham, more than 4 inches of rain fell from 7 p.m. Sunday to 7 a.m. Monday. Police and firefighters rescued people who became trapped in flooded townhomes and a mobile home park.
Dozens of cars had water up to their roofs. Rescue workers wearing life jackets waded through muddy water nearly to their chests to reach stranded residents. Hundreds of more people in mobile homes on higher ground were isolated because water covered the only entrance to the complex.
Pelham Fire Battalion Chief Mike Knight said people realized at daybreak that the water, 7 feet deep in some places, was surrounding their homes. Some people had to abandon cars after driving into areas where the flood water was deeper than expected.
"It's been a long time since it's done this, so people kind of weren't expecting it," he said.
At an apartment complex in the suburb of Homewood, rescue crews used a boat to help several residents and pets get out of flooded first-floor units. Mudslides toppled trees and blocked several roads.
Some roads in Birmingham became impassable due to flood waters and fallen trees, and schools delayed opening in many areas of central Alabama due to the heavy rains.
At one point, Birmingham-based Alabama Power Co. reported 11,000 homes and businesses without electricity. That was cut to about 4,500 Monday afternoon.
In the Atlanta suburb of Lilburn, Gwinnett County firefighters were called to Jackson Creek after witnesses saw a car leave the road. The car soon was swallowed by the creek. A few hours later, firefighters with an inflatable boat found the driver dead inside, fire department spokesman Lt. Colin Rhoden said in a statement.
In Augusta, Ga., where the Master's golf tournament is being held this week, practice round play was halted Monday two hours after it began. It was the first time in 11 years that weather washed out a Monday practice round.
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