ROCK HILL, S.C. — Survivors told of cowering in closets a day after a tornado-spawning storm system passed through the Southeast, flattening homes and killing at least six people.
Across the region, dozens more were injured, scores of buildings were damaged and thousands were without power. Meteorologists confirmed Thursday that tornadoes had struck Louisiana and Alabama, and twisters were suspected in Mississippi, Georgia and the Carolinas.
"It looked like The Wizard of Oz," Henry Taylor said, describing a funnel cloud outside his home near Rock Hill. "It was surreal."
The 50-year-old Taylor said he and his wife sought refuge in a closet as the storm roared through the area, killing three people. Part of his roof was torn off, windows were blown out and trees were snapped in two. But he and his wife escaped injury.
"I held my wife closely in the closet and I prayed. I said, 'Oh my God, this is it. I'm going to be buried in the debris. We're going to die,' " Taylor said Thursday, wiping back tears.
The sheriff for surrounding York County asked South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley for state assistance in cleaning up the debris.
To the northeast, a woman and her 3-year-old granddaughter were killed near Lexington, N.C., when a suspected tornado splintered their home, leaving only the foundation. And a Georgia motorist was killed when a tree crushed his SUV north of Atlanta.
Ideal conditions for severe weather were created when a cold front stretching from the Gulf of Mexico to the Northeast collided with unseasonably warm air, forecasters said.