Three people were killed as a tornado ripped through North Carolina early Tuesday, destroying at least 50 homes and leaving thousands of customers without power in a winter storm that is pummeling the country's South and midsection, authorities said.
The tornado, which touched down in Brunswick County just before midnight, injured at least 10 other people, Brunswick County Emergency Services said.
The worst-hit area was in the Seaside coastal community, about 45 miles southwest of Wilmington, where many homes were ripped from their foundations and trees were snapped in half, the Brunswick County Sheriff's Office said.
Power lines were also down, leaving thousands without power, Brunswick Electric Membership Corp. said.
Kate Gentle of Shallotte said Tuesday that the storm was "absolutely crazy."
"I've never felt a thunderstorm beneath my feet," she said. "The floor was vibrating."
County emergency management officials said there were reports of people who were trapped in homes or were feared missing as rescue operations got underway.
First responders, fire departments and law enforcement agencies were on the scene all night assessing damage and clearing debris.
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The National Weather Service will survey the damage later Tuesday to determine the strength of the tornado and the path it took.
A major storm is pummeling parts of the country with ice, snow and freezing rain.
In Texas, more than 3 million customers were without power as the state's electric grid was unable to keep up with residents' demand for service, according to poweroutage.us.
Two people, including a child, died from carbon monoxide poisoning after a car was used to generate power for heat, Houston police said.
The winter storm dropped snow and ice from Arkansas to Indiana, bringing record low temperatures from Oklahoma City to Minnesota's Iron Range, where thermometer readings dipped to minus 38, the weather service said.
According to the forecast, wintry conditions were expected from the Ohio Valley to Pennsylvania and Maine. The storm was expected to move into the Northeast on Tuesday, the weather service said.