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Flooding in South forces evacuations

Flooding caused hundreds of people to evacuate in the South Friday after thunderstorms dumped up to 10 inches of rain. The storms spawned tornadoes in Georgia and Alabama.

"All of a sudden the roof went one way and the floor went the other way," Frank Higginbotham said of a tornado that struck his Alabama home Friday morning. "I cradled my daughter to my chest and we were blown through the wall into another room." He had a bump on his head; his daughter was unhurt.

Hundreds of Alabama residents evacuated as floodwaters rose. Water was over the gas pumps of a service station near Baptist Medical Center-DeKalb at Fort Payne, where hospital workers used a motorboat and rowboat because a small bridge leading to the medical center was flooded.

Alabama's Shelby County received more than 9 inches of rain in less than 24 hours, and 30 people evacuated from two trailer parks that were under 6 to 8 feet of water had to be moved twice.

In Georgia, a tornado destroyed 15 homes and injured 11 people in

Carrollton, the National Weather Service said.

As many as 1,000 people were evacuated Friday from Trion in northwestern Georgia after 10 inches of rain fell in 15 hours and the Chattooga River rushed out of its banks.

Authorities could not determine if a dam on the Chattooga had burst because "it's 10 feet under water and the currents are so fast going across it that they can't see the dam," said Chattooga County sheriff's deputy Tammy Owings.

In McCaysville, in extreme northern Georgia near the Tennessee border, the Toccoa River washed over its banks and forced an estimated 500 people from their homes, authorities said. No injuries were reported.

In western North Carolina, where up to 6 inches of rain fell, the body of a man apparently swept away from his trout hatchery was found in the French Broad River, police said.

Meanwhile, a strong Pacific storm swept inland after dumping up to 3 feet of snow in the Sierra Nevada.

At Incline Village, Nev., on Lake Tahoe, Diamond Peak spokeswoman Lee Weber said the resort had received 3 feet of new snow by midmorning and had blizzard conditions.

In the Northwest, the snowstorm closed more than 70 miles of Interstate 80 - the main east-west route across California's Sierra Nevada - in both directions from Auburn, the California Highway Patrol reported.

Winds clocked at 45 mph and low visibility at San Francisco International Airport closed two of four runways.

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