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At least five killed in Southeast storms

Posted at 4:37 PM, Jan 03, 2017
and last updated 2017-01-03 17:40:51-05

People in several Southern states are doing their best to clean up after severe storms swept through the area on Monday, killing at least five people.

The storms uprooted trees, damaged homes and cut power to thousands.

There was high wind and hail from Texas to Florida, and spawned several possible tornados in parts of Mississippi, Alabama and Georgia.

Paul Mielke watched as two trees fell on his home.

"Bang. I mean, it was almost like an explosion," Mielke recalls. "I saw the first tree go, hit the second tree and I was going to see trees in my living room and it hit the house, the whole house shook and the roof stopped it."

Joann Whitaker couldn't see the trees that fell on her house.

"It was just so scary," Whitaker recalls.

But she can definitely see the damage they left behind.

"It happened that quick," Whitaker says. "And at the same time then a crash hit and we just knew it was a tree that hit the roof."

The storms not only damaged buildings and closed highways over the last few days, but devastated families. Four people were killed when a tree fell on their mobile home in Rehobeth, Alabama.

It'll take a while for things to get back to normal for the people affected. But it's possible, and for that, they're grateful.

"I know other people have went through, much worse than this so," Whitaker says. "I am counting my blessings."

The fifth death was in Florida, where a 70-year-old man drowned trying to escape flood waters that had surrounded his travel trailer.

Today, the National Weather Service is conducting damage surveys to determine the strength and paths of the tornadoes that ripped across the south.