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Storms kill at least 3 in the Southeast as severe weather is set to continue

More than 200,000 customers were without power across five states Thursday morning.
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Severe weather that has claimed the lives of at least three people in the last 24 hours and destroyed homes across the South is set to continue, as forecasters warn of thunderstorms, flash flooding and possible tornadoes Thursday and into Friday.

More than 200,000 customers were without power across Tennessee, the Carolinas and Georgia as of 8 a.m. ET Thursday.

There were more than 360 storm reports Wednesday, which was the fifth day this year to have more than 100 tornado reports.

One person was confirmed dead in Columbia, Tennessee, in a suspected tornado Wednesday, as devastating winds brought down trees and power lines. Elsewhere, Bryce Edward Hentnick, 22, died when a tree fell onto his car in Claiborne County, north of Knoxville, NBC affiliate WSMV of Nashville reported.

The same hazard killed an unidentified person in Gaston County, North Carolina, west of Charlotte, when a tree fell trapping two people inside their car.

Storms kill at least three in the Southeast, as severe weather set to continue.
A man uses a chain saw to clear storm damage at a home along Cothran Road in Columbia, Tenn., on Wednesday.George Walker IV / AP

A statement from Gaston County said that firefighters were called to the incident Wednesday afternoon — the other person inside was rescued and taken to a local hospital. A state of emergency was declared across the county Wednesday night, as almost 45% of energy customers were without power.

A 9-year-old boy — son of Rutherford County's director of schools, James Sullivan — was in a critical condition Wednesday night after falling into a storm drain while trying to retrieve a lost shoe, WSMV reported.

"You will also hear that our Director of School’s son was involved in an accident tonight during the storm. He is stable but critical and is receiving medical treatment tonight. We ask that you please keep his family in your thoughts and prayers," the school system said in a message to parents Wednesday night.

Tornado warnings were still in place for much of Tennessee, parts of Georgia and South Carolina on Thursday morning. A video shot in Henagar, Alabama, on Thursday morning showed funnel clouds, heavy rain and lightning. About 64 million people are in a severe risk zone that stretches from Texas to Georgia and as far north as Maryland.

Flood watches were in effect for 8 million people across Kentucky and Tennessee on Thursday morning. Cities including Washington D.C.; Dallas and Austin in Texas; Atlanta; and Charlotte and Raleigh in North Carolina could all experience adverse weather effects.

Aerial video showed the extent of the destruction in Tennessee on Wednesday, where roofs were torn from houses and long lines of trees were toppled.

One house in Columbia was reduced to rubble, with only a few walls left standing.

Six 6 to 9 inches of rain brought flash flooding to Springfield, Tennessee, north of Nashville, making roads impassable and partially submerging cars.

Storms kill at least three in the Southeast, as severe weather set to continue
Utility workers survey storm damage in Columbia, Tenn., on Wednesday.George Walker IV / AP

The severe weather is set to continue. A weather front will move from the mid-Atlantic to the Ohio Valley before moving south, the National Weather Service said.

The weather system will continue into Friday, bringing heavy rain, severe thunderstorms and possible tornadoes to eastern Texas, Louisiana, central Mississippi, southern Alabama and southern Georgia.

The weather service warned in an update Thursday morning that this could generate winds of up to 75 mph or more, and hail with a diameter of 2 inches or more.

Heavy rain could create flash flooding. "The associated heavy rain will create mainly localized areas of flash flooding, with urban areas, roads, small streams, and low-lying areas the most vulnerable," it said.

It's been a chaotic week for weather across the U.S with tornadoes touching down in Oklahoma, killing one, and also affecting Michigan, Ohio and Indiana on Tuesday and Wednesday.

The risk of severe weather diminishes from Friday, with just 4 million at risk, but southeast Georgia and northern Florida could get gusty winds and a brief storm spin-up.