THE slow-moving remnants of Tropical Storm Lee dumped a torrent of rain across the South US today and whipped up tornadoes as it pushed further inland. One death was reported, and at least one person was injured.
In Mississippi, a man was swept away by floodwaters after trying to cross a swollen creek, authorities said today, the first death caused by flooding or winds from Lee. The system was sweeping across Alabama and pushing into Georgia, where suspected tornadoes sent trees falling into homes and injured at least one person.
Lieutenant. Jay Baker of the Cherokee County Sheriff’s office north-west of Atlanta said he had scattered reports of homes damaged by falling trees, but couldn’t say how many. One person was taken to a hospital with injuries that weren’t life-threatening.
As of today, at least 16,000 people were without power in Louisiana and Mississippi, states that bore the brunt of the storm over the weekend.
The man who died in Mississippi, 57-year-old John Howard Anderson Jr., had been in a car with two other people trying to cross a rain-swollen creek that naturally flows over the entrance to JP Coleman State Park. Anderson had been staying on a house boat at the park’s marina. Tishomingo County Coroner Mack Wilemon said he was told Anderson was outside of the car and had been thrown a rope to be rescued, but he couldn’t hold on.
Jonathan Weeks, a 48-year-old salesman from Plantersville who owns a holiday home near the park, said he helped pull two people to shore and tried to save Anderson.
Mr Weeks said a strong storm had come through the area and he and his wife went out looking around when they saw a van crossing the creek. He happened to have a rope in the tool box of his truck.
Surf churned up by the storm had also proven treacherous. In Texas, a body boarder drowned after being pulled out to sea by heavy surf churned up by Lee, and the Coast Guard was searching for a boy swept away by rough surf off the Alabama coast.
Lee came ashore over the weekend in Louisiana, dumping up to a foot of rain in parts of New Orleans and other areas. Despite some street flooding, officials said New Orleans’ 24-pump flood control system was doing its job.
Today, heavy rain continued to fall in Mississippi and make its way across Alabama and into Tennessee and Georgia.
“Right now it’s a big rainmaker, said Marc McAllister, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Jackson.
Elsewhere, the heavy rain made for a dud of a Labor Day holiday as Gulf Coast beaches mostly cleared of tourists.
Today, the main road on Alabama’s Dauphin Island was flooded and covered with sand, jellyfish and foam washed in by Lee. Customers trickled in to the town’s largest store on what should have been a busy day.
Rain already had started falling in Tennessee, though no campers had been evacuated from Great Smoky Mountain National Park, officials said.
As of today, overflowing creeks and rivers were already causing problems ahead of warnings that things could get worse as rain falls over higher elevations in the Appalachian Mountains.
All the rain caused a creek to swell near an apartment complex in Jackson, prompting officials to move 45 families to a storm shelter. In Louisiana’s Livingston Parish, about 200 families were evacuated because of flooding.