The death toll in Mississippi following a series of powerful storms and tornadoes rose Friday to eight, officials said, bringing the number killed in three states to 15.
An additional person was also reported missing in Benton County, leaving two people in that region unaccounted for after storms socked the state on Wednesday, the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency said.
The new death was reported in Coahoma County, the agency said. At least eight people were killed in Mississippi, including a 7-year-old who was in a van with his family on Highway 7 in Holly Springs when storms ripped through the town, officials said.
NBC affiliate WMC identified the boy as Nicolas Pulmory, and said his mother, father, and younger sister were hurt and are recovering at a hospital.
Death Toll Rises to 14 After Storms and Tornadoes Ravage SouthDec. 26, 201502:10
Authorities in Benton County, Mississippi, on Thursday identified four people who were killed in storms and at least one tornado on Wednesday, and said authorities continued to look for two people who remained missing.
Related: Death Toll Rises to 14 After Tornadoes, Storms Ravage South
Killed were Max Croxton, 69, and Ellen Croxton, 67, whose home was destroyed in the north part of the county, and William Crawford, 67, and Patricia Williams, 58, whose home in the central part of the county was destroyed, the sheriff’s office said.
Sheriff’s deputies and volunteers continued to look Friday for Michael Nunnally, 47, who was living at the same home as Crawford and Williams. The identity of the other missing person was not immediately released Friday evening.
Some who lost their homes in the storms were thankful for what matters most: Their lives and the lives of their loved ones. Lahon Curry told NBC affiliate WMC that a tornado destroyed his Marshall County home with his mother and sister inside, but fortunately no one was hurt.
“I just thank God that they are here. It wasn't about the house. It was about the family. They are the most important thing to me and just being able to see it, it's the hardest thing to take in but I've got one blessing and that's my family," Curry told the station. "My family is still here with me."
On Friday, relatives helped Daisy and Charles Johnson clean up after the storm flattened their Benton County house.
Daisy Johnson, 68, told The Associated Press that she and her husband rushed along with other relatives to the storm shelter across the street after they heard a tornado was headed their way.
"We looked straight west of us, and there it was. It was yellow and it was roaring, lightning just continually, and it was making a terrible noise," she said. "I never want to hear that again for as long as I live."
Six people were killed in Tennessee, including three people whose car was found in a car submerged in a Maury County creek Thursday afternoon, the Columbia Police Department said.
They were not identified, but the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency said the three dead confirmed Thursday were two 17-year-old males and a 16-year-old female.
In Atkins, Arkansas, 18-year-old Michaela Remus was killed when a tree crashed into the bedroom she was sharing with her 18-month-old sister. The toddler was taken to a hospital after being safely pulled out of the home by rescuers.
Rusty Russell, a friend of Remus’, said Remus died protecting her sister, and shielded the child as the tree crashed down.
Meanwhile, residents in Alabama and northwest Georgia were bracing for heavy rain and potential flooding, and flash flood watches were in place for parts of southeastern, central and eastern Tennessee until Saturday morning, the National Weather Service said.
A tornado touched down near Birmingham, Alabama, at around 5:30 p.m. Friday and destroyed several homes, officials said. There were no reports of deaths.