ATLANTA, April 16 (UPI) -- WRAL-TV in Raleigh, N.C., reported at least five people were confirmed dead in Cumberland, Johnston and Bladen counties as severe storms spawned twisters across much of North Carolina. The TV station also said a Lowe's Home Improvement store in Sanford was destroyed.
Doug Hoell, director of North Carolina Emergency Management, told WRAL-TV at least 15 counties had reported significant damage from tornadoes.
"Dozens, likely scores, of homes are destroyed or severely damaged," he said.
The National Weather Service received 71 reports of tornadoes and 93 reports of wind damage, the TV station said.
WNCN-TV in Raleigh reported an entire mobile home park near Micro was destroyed with more than 100 people reportedly displaced.
The News & Observer in Raleigh said the storm system downed power lines, toppled trees and damaged buildings in the Triangle region.
A Progress Energy spokesman said at least 70,000 customers were without power.
"It's really bad," Raleigh Fire Department Lt. Adam Stanley said.
At least seven people died in Arkansas, seven in Alabama, two in Oklahoma and one in Mississippi, CNN reported. The National Weather Service said more than 100 twisters were spotted through that region.
Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley declared a state of emergency Friday following reports of two tornado touchdowns in at least six counties, as storms knocked down trees and snapped power lines.
"This is a serious storm that has already caused significant damage across the South. I hope Alabamians take extreme caution while these storms move through," Bentley said.
Georgia Power reported nearly 20,000 power outages as storms dropped golf ball-sized hail and knocked down trees.