(CBS) Severe weather is threatening the South, resulting from a massive storm system stretching from the South to the mid-Atlantic. More than 27 million Americans are in the path of more dangerous weather, reports CBS News correspondent David Begnaud.
At least eight reported tornadoes tore through the South Tuesday, including one that touched down in Scooba, Mississippi and made it all the way to Alabama, leveling homes and leaving a path of destruction that stretched across both states.
“Thank God we are all okay. That’s the main thing anytime you have a storm,” one resident said.
In Rankin County, Mississippi, firefighters rescued at least eight people from rising floodwaters.
“Seeing them come, that was the best part of it,” a resident said. “When I’ve seen those lights coming down this road, I knew that we were going to be okay.”
Willie Jackson and his family hid as a tornado barreled through their home.
“We ran in the house but we survived by the grace of God,” Jackson said.
The tornado that hit Collinsville, Mississippi ripped apart the First Baptist Church. Its pastor, Wade Ricks, said he heard it coming and rushed his family to safety.
The pastor loaded his wife and son up into his white suburban and pulled it alongside the church, thinking the wall of the building would help protect the vehicle. The Ricks family then raced inside the church, where they survived by huddling under a desk.
But the more than 350 members of First Baptist’s congregation will need to find another place to worship on Sunday.
“The damage is pretty extreme. Every building has received substantial damage. Most of it is going to have to be pretty much torn down,” said First Baptist Church Worship Pastor Stephen Ferrand.
The same storm system fueling tornadoes in the South is also creating blizzard-like conditions across the Central Plains. A whiteout in Southwestern Minnesota prompted a travel ban, while more than a foot of snow fell in parts of Nebraska.