MONTGOMERY, Ala. — A severe weather system that trudged across the Southeast on Wednesday tore roofs off buildings, overturned cars and caused a house fire that killed a woman.
Two apparent tornadoes damaged buildings and caused minor injuries near Mobile in southwest Alabama, hours after several tornadoes were reported to the west in Louisiana. A woman died in a house fire in Mississippi that authorities believe was caused by lightning.
Alabama and Louisiana's governors declared states of emergency, which allows them to request federal help in responding to the storms.
Far to the north, New Jersey's governor also made an emergency declaration for parts of the state to allow the National Guard and state police to prepare for expected flooding from the storm system. The National Weather service issued a flood warning in several counties where heavy rain was expected today.
Alabama authorities said only minor injuries were reported despite the destruction there.
Ambulances, police cars and fire trucks with flashing lights descended on the Theodore area near Mobile after the storm struck about 9:45 a.m., overturning vehicles, nearly demolishing a gas station, knocking down power lines and causing ammonia and natural gas leaks.
Later, across Mobile Bay in Baldwin County, a possible tornado damaged several homes and businesses in Silverhill.
Torrential rains caused flooding across a wide area of the state, and damage was reported in 17 counties by midday.
At least three tornadoes touched down in southeastern Louisiana on the heels of Mardi Gras season, which ended Tuesday night. A twister that hit Bush damaged a car, truck, home and trailer and caused a woman to be cut on her head, officials said.
The National Weather Service also reported tornadoes in Kenner, where no damage was reported, and around Lacombe, where a roof was torn off a house.