NORMAN, Okla., April 27 (UPI) -- Devastating and deadly storms headed east Wednesday after battering the midsection of the United States from the Gulf of Mexico to the Great Lakes.
Six people were confirmed dead in Alabama Wednesday, the Birmingham News reported. At least five were dead in Mississippi, where Gov. Haley Barbour declared a state of emergency in 39 counties and for the state's Choctaw Indian tribe, The Mississippi Press reported. Arkansas reported one more person had died overnight, bringing to 11 the total killed in storms that have belted that state since Monday, CNN said.
The death toll for the three states this week is at least 22.
"Our thoughts and prayers are with the families who lost loved ones or property in these devastating spring storms," Barbour said in a news release. "A large section of our state has been impacted, and our emergency responders are doing an excellent job in helping communities. This state of emergency declaration will allow the state to offer aid to begin recovery efforts."
The most recent storms spawned tornadoes in Arkansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Missouri and Texas, ABC News reported.
In Portage, Mich., lightning struck a group playing soccer, police said, with seven people hospitalized, WWMT-TV, Kalamazoo, reported.
"We had multiple people down in multiple spots," Portage Fire Department Battalion Chief Charles Wellman said. "I was stopped on my way in by someone in a car that was injured. So I stopped at that and worked on a child in a car. Then multiple parents came up to me with their children."
Parts of the region have received as much as 15 inches of rain in the past five days, ABC said. The Mississippi River and many of its tributaries, including the Black and Ohio rivers, are overflowing their banks or close to it.
In Arkansas, the death toll includes six who died when their cars were swept away by flood waters.