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Powerful Storms That Spawned Tornadoes Rip Across The South


A line of storms, including tornadoes, ripped across the south from Texas to the mid-Atlantic in the last few days. At least eight people died, among them two children in Texas. None of those killed were in Troy, Ala., where officials believe that experience with past storms may have kept citizens safe. Troy Public Radio's Kyle Gassiott reports.

KYLE GASSIOTT, BYLINE: Byron Straughn is a firm believer in weather radios. The 45-year-old says that's what kept him safe on Sunday morning when a possible tornado blew through his mobile home park in Troy.

BYRON STRAUGHN: I advise everyone to please purchase a weather radio and please get with someone that's knowledgeable and help you program it. And it will save you. Trust me.

GASSIOTT: Straughn's wife programmed his radio, and so he was in a shelter when the storm came through. It picked up one neighbor's single-wide home and dropped it on the roof of the home next door, where one of the occupants was sleeping. The cooking range from the first trailer ended up in the bedroom of the second trailer.

STRAUGHN: Trailer that's on top - the stove was sitting in his room when he woke up.

GASSIOTT: Mark Rose is a senior meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Birmingham. He says the National Weather Service partners with companies that make weather radios to educate people on their use. He also says that phone alerts, as well as Facebook and Twitter, have been helping build awareness ahead of storms.

MARK ROSE: The social media aspect of it has really helped us get people's attention that these stronger systems are expected, you know, within the next several days.

GASSIOTT: And Rose's colleagues used Facebook to send a special message to churches before the Palm Sunday weekend telling them to designate someone to watch for severe weather that could happen when everyone is in church.

ROSE: Any kind of large building that may have a - you know, a fairly high roof, like a gymnasium in a school or a sanctuary in church, those types of facilities we advise people not to be in.

GASSIOTT: Jason Reeves is Troy's mayor. He credits what everyone has learned from the tornadoes that killed 23 people in Lee County, Ala., last month, with keeping his constituents safe.

JASON REEVES: Maybe some of our people actually paid more attention than they would have. You know, it's just so terrible when a tragedy of that magnitude has to remind us.

GASSIOTT: Reeves says he hopes his citizens never get complacent when storms don't kill or seriously injure anyone because the next time, Troy may not be so lucky. For NPR News, I'm Kyle Gassiott in Troy, Ala.

(SOUNDBITE OF YAX KEYON'S "DWINDLING") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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