Arkansas, Mississippi Tornado and Storm Toll Mounts as Girl, 3, Among Latest Killed

Death toll up to 9 in Arkansas; storms head toward Midwest, system moves east.

April 26, 2011, 4:52 AM

April 26, 2011— -- A 3-year-old girl in southern Mississippi was among at least 10 deaths reported in connection with tornadoes and severe weather that have ripped through several states from Kentucky to Mississippi and prompted another evacuation today near a breached levee in Missouri, authorities said.

The girl died after the storm sent a tree crashing into her family's home. Pike County Coroner Percy Pittman said Jabriel Branch was in the same room with her parents when the tree crashed through their roof early today.

All three family members had to be cut out of the home because of damage, he said. Her parents are being treated in a local emergency room for non-life threatening injuries.

Forecasters expected more rain and storms today to slam across the Midwest, as the system moves east.

In Arkansas, where the National Weather Service has issued a tornado watch for 21 counties until 10 p.m., five people were killed in rising floodwaters and two died in a town where a possible tornado barreled through Monday, according to the Associated Press.

The state's death count is now up to nine.

Benton County Coroner Daniel Oxford told the AP today that a man died when his car was swept away by the floodwaters in Bentonville. Another body was later found downstream.

Four of the victims were killed when a tornado blew through the small town of Vilonia, Ark., where Caroline Thompson recalled taking cover as the storm approached.

"We all ended up in the closet," she said. "And then you could just hear crashing and stuff being knocked around and blown around. And it tore us up."

In Pocahontas, Ark., the Black River is a few feet from topping the levee. Several roads are closed, including highway 90, because of flooding, officials said.

Marty Cagle of the Randolph County Office of Emergency Management said the river might crest by the end of the work week.

"The level of the Black River, here at Pocahontas right now is possibly 18 feet," Cagle told ABC News Radio. "They are predicting, by sometime Friday, that it will be approximately 25 point two foot."

Missouri Flooding

But Arkansas wasn't alone in flooding.

Police have confirmed that the levee along the Black River in Poplar Bluff, Mo., has breached. Officials said the breach took place in a section that diverts water away from the city and into rural farmland surrounding the area.

Authorities are now planning to evacuate more residents after evacuating about 1,000 other residents from their homes in Poplar Bluff Monday.

Poplar Bluff police officer Daron House told the Associated Press that water is pouring through a crack in the levee southeast of the town and officials are also responding to a report of a second breach. There are concerns that the water, which is now leaking into a drainage ditch, could flood into a wider area.

Butler County Sheriff Mark Dobbs said Monday several county roads were closed because of rising water along the Black River.

"At this point, it's getting to where the roads are impassable," he said. "There's so much water spilling over the levees."

Poplar Bluff resident Kenneth Kimbro worries about what he will find when he returns to his home.

Kimbro was among hundreds evacuated from their homes.

"I'm overwhelmed; very overwhelmed and I'm scared inside." Kimbro told ABC News Radio. "And I just got to be, I think I'm just going to have to be praying."

In Texas, hail shattered windshields and winds up to 100 miles per hour prompted officials to warn people to take cover just before a twister touched down near the town of Cleburne.

To date, there have been more than 5,400 severe weather reports recorded this month and 46 people killed nationwide in tornadoes.

ABC News Radio, Michael Murray and the Associated Press contributed to this report.

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