MCCOMB, Miss., Sept. 5 (UPI) -- The remnants of Tropical Storm Lee triggered tornadoes, torrential rains and flooding Monday as the system moved into the U.S. Southeast, officials said.
The (New Orleans) Times-Picayune reported the storm system had moved far enough to the east to allow the mouth of the Mississippi River to reopen to ocean-going ships for the first time since Friday afternoon.
The Houston Chronicle reported workers were slowly returning to oil and gas platforms in the Gulf of Mexico that had been abandoned ahead of the storm. Gusting winds were still limiting helicopter flights out of Louisiana, said officials at BP, the largest producer in the gulf.
Shell, the No. 2 producer, said workers would return to the platforms "once power and communications are restored, marine logistics support is established and the locations are deemed safe," The Times-Picayune said.
The newspaper said as of Monday 61 percent of oil production and 43 percent of natural gas production in the gulf were still shut down.
WGCL-TV, Atlanta, reported three tornado touchdowns had been confirmed in the Atlanta area with authorities investigating reports of two others. A tornado watch was to remain in effect for the region into the night, and a flash flood watch was in effect for northern Georgia into Tuesday.
Storms spawned by Lee left thousands of customers without electricity in pockets across the gulf region. WGCL-TV said Georgia Power had about 5,700 customers in the dark in the Atlanta metro area.
KATC-TV, Lafayette, La., reported 6,000 of the 20,000 CLECO customers who lost power Sunday evening were still without electricity Monday.
In Tallahassee, Fla., the Democrat reported about 2,250 customers had lost power Monday.
The heavy rains were expected to spread into the Tennessee Valley, from northeast Mississippi into Tennessee, and the southern Appalachian Mountains into Tuesday, with rainfall of 4-8 inches forecast, the National Hurricane Center reported.
Tornadoes were possible in sections of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, the Florida Panhandle and southwestern Georgia, the center said.
Officials in Louisiana and Mississippi reported parts of their states were flooded. Utilities reported pockets of power outages.
The levees held and New Orleans was "100 percent operational" with about 200 utility customers without power, Mayor Mitch Landrieu said Sunday, adding the storm dumped 10 to 13 inches of rain on the city and carried wind gusts of up to 50 mph.
Sheriff's department officials said a mother and her 18-month-old child were killed Sunday near Gladewater in eastern Texas when a wildfire stoked by the storm overtook their mobile home, CNN reported.
The sheriff's office said fires in Gladewater and Kilgore re-ignited overnight.
A body surfer drowned in Galveston, Texas, but authorities didn't say the death was directly attributable to the storm.