Rescuers, residents comb debris across U.S. East Coast after storms kill eight

AP

Residents and rescue crews on Thursday combed through wreckage left by storms that lashed the United States from the Gulf Coast all the way up to Maine, killing at least eight people and injuring scores across several states, officials said.

The National Weather Service said the storm system would continue to push northward into Canada on Thursday. Snow and gusty winds were forecast across part of the Appalachian Mountains, the Great Lakes and New England, it said.

The storm system on Wednesday pounded the Carolinas and Virginia with high winds, hail and heavy rain, while flood warnings were in place from Maryland to Maine. The National Weather Service said there also had been 19 reports of tornadoes in Virginia, North Carolina and Florida on Wednesday.

William Brown, 71, of Petersburg, Virginia, said he was knocked unconscious when a tree fell on his truck as he tried to escape the storm in Waverly, among the hardest-hit areas.

When he came to, he found that the mobile home he had been next to was demolished. Two men and a 2-year-old boy who had been in it were killed, their bodies found about 300 yards (274 meters) away.

“I am grateful to God,” said Brown as he watched a crane try to lift the tree off his vehicle. “Every once in a while God lets us know who is in charge of things.”

Storm debris, downed trees and fallen power lines choked streets in the town of 2,300 people about 130 miles (210 km) south of Washington. Household goods were scattered across roads and lawns, and parts of houses were lying in an open field.

A spokesman for the Virginia emergency management agency said National Guard crews had been deployed across the state to clear downed trees and open roads.

In South Carolina, a 58-year-old man died on Wednesday when he was struck by a falling tree. Several tornadoes pummeled Louisiana and Mississippi on Tuesday, killing at least three people and injuring dozens.

The emergency management spokesman said at least 40 people in Virginia had been injured. Up to 64 homes or businesses had been destroyed and about 180 had been damaged, he said.

Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe declared a state of emergency to hasten delivery of disaster relief.

High seas also grounded a fishing boat off New York’s Rockaway Beach and capsized a U.S. Coast Guard boat that rushed to help on Thursday, but no one was injured.