The Deep South took cover again Tuesday as tornadoes and floods swept across the battered region for a third night.
At least four tornadoes were confirmed to have touched down Tuesday afternoon and evening in Cumberland, Craven, Jones and Edgecombe counties in North Carolina, and reported funnel clouds were being reviewed in several counties in Mississippi and Florida, the National Weather Service said.
At least one person died Tuesday as a result of flooding in Escambia County, Fla., according to the Florida Highway Patrol. Residents were encouraged to stay off roadways.
Tornado watches spread across almost a quarter of the U.S. on Tuesday night, in a wide band of the Midwest and the Atlantic Coast stretching from the Canadian border to the Gulf of Mexico.
In all, The Weather Channel reported, 75 million people were at risk for severe weather. In many areas, the immediate threat was posed by potentially deadly floodwaters.
Flash flood emergencies were declared Tuesday night in Baldwin County, Ala., and in Pensacola, Fla., as torrents of rain poured down along the Gulf Coast.
Mobile, Ala., recorded 8.99 inches of rain Tuesday — the city's fifth-wettest day in 143 years — and more than 5 inches fell in just 45 minutes in Pensacola, according to The National Weather Service, which called the floodwaters "extremely dangerous and life-threatening."
Police and fire officials in Farmville, N.C., undertook 10 "water rescues" of motorists in stranded vehicles and evacuated residents of several homes as floodwaters of 2½ to 3 feet cascaded down city streets, Police Chief Donnie Greene told NBC station WITN of Winston-Salem.
The new threats were thrown off by the same monster weather system that has killed at least 35 people in six states since Sunday.
The system produced more than 50 reported tornadoes Monday. Sixteen people were killed, including 12 in Mississippi, where a county coroner said he expected the death toll to climb. The mayor of Tupelo called it a "miracle of God" that only one person died there.
The day before, storms lashed the central states, killing 15 people in Arkansas.
The overall toll climbed by eight Tuesday, to 35. The victims include an Iraq war veteran, two brothers ages 8 and 7, and a swimmer from the University of Alabama who set state records in high school.
As they waited for more heavy weather, people in the tornado zone picked through wreckage Tuesday. Rescue workers in Louisville, Miss., stepped over downed power lines, and 20 firefighters linked hands to walk through debris.
The Louisville tornado was given a preliminary classification of EF-4 by the National Weather Service, meaning it packed winds of 166 to 200 mph.
In Kimberly, Ala., the A-shaped roof of Kimberly Church of God — believed to be the oldest continuously operating Pentecostal church in the U.S. — sat on the ground next to the rest of the building.
"All I see is memories," said Heather Cooke Hill, daughter of the church's pastor. "But I know at the end of the day this is just a building.
"The church is the church body, and we are going to rebuild and keep serving God in our community," Hill told NBC station WVTM of Birmingham.
And there was no fire department anymore, the building smashed.
"Probably lasted, I don't know, maybe 10 seconds," Fire Chief Brian Gober told the station. "I opened that door right there, and all I could see was sky and debris on top of our trucks."
Cassandra Vinograd and Erin McClam of NBC News contributed to this report.
First published April 29 2014, 12:12 PM