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Tornadoes tear through Southern states; 3 killed

| Thursday, Jan. 31, 2013, 10:08 p.m.

ADAIRSVILLE, Ga. — For Darleen Evans, it was sheer terror as the manufacturing plant where she worked collapsed around her and her colleagues. She and two other women rushed into a bathroom stall, she holding one under each arm as she prayed, a tornado roaring overhead.

She tearfully recalled their survival as nothing short of a miracle: “If it wasn't for God, this company and these people wouldn't be here.”

On two occasions, tornadoes have ripped through the Daiki Corp. steel manufacturing plant that employs more than 90 people in this small community. Both times, everyone inside escaped serious injury.

The sprawling facility won't be reopening anytime soon after the storm that hit Wednesday, however: Most of it has been reduced to a pile of rubble, little more than mangled beams and twisted steel. The first time, in 2002, a tornado tossed the roof into the parking lot. Ventilation fans, ductwork and wiring were torn away.

Several media outlets aired dramatic video on Wednesday showing an enormous funnel cloud roaring through Adairsville, a town of about 4,600, about 60 miles northwest of Atlanta.

Three people died because of the menacing storm system that marched across the United States — tornadoes killed one each in Tennessee and Georgia, and floodwaters killed a third in Maryland. While most survived, many lost their homes and were left with little else a day later.

Tens of thousands were without power at the storm's peak as a cold front sent what had been unseasonably high temperatures plummeting to near-freezing depths. Dangerous wind blanketed the nation's midsection, with subzero temperatures and wind chills recorded in the Dakotas. Others closely watched rivers swollen by torrential rains, and officials opened flood gates to ease pressure on dams in Maryland. Hundreds were evacuated to higher ground. In Anne Arundel County, one person apparently drowned in a flooded camp where homeless people live in tents, police Lt. T.J. Smith said.

Ernest Moran said he lives at the site with about 15 other people. He awakened on Thursday morning to find “a swamp,” he said, and escaped with only his dog and a knapsack.

Near the nation's capital, at least one motorist had to be rescued because of flash floods. In New England, powerful winds were the main problem as gusts topping 60 mph in some areas caused widespread power outages.

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