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Tornadoes Kill 14 In Central Arkansas

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Tornado damage in Mayflower, Arkansas. [CBS] Tornado damage in Mayflower, Arkansas. [CBS]
MAYFLOWER, Arkansas -

A broad tornado sliced through the Little Rock vicinity Sunday, killing at least 14 people and leaving behind a miles-long path of destruction as a powerful system rumbling off the Plains provided a violent kick-start to the nation's tornado season.

Original reports said at least 16 were killed, but according to AP, the Arkansas governor's aide said two victims were counted twice.

The scene was the same in town after town, with emergency workers and volunteers going door-to-door to check for victims.

State troopers performed the same task among the damaged and toppled 18-wheelers, cars and trucks on a two-mile stretch of Interstate 40, a major thoroughfare in and out of Arkansas' capital city.

"It turned pitch black," said Mark Ausbrooks, who was at his parents' home in Mayflower when the storm arrived. "I ran and got pillows to put over our heads and ... all hell broke loose."

"My parents' home, it's gone completely," he said.

Forecasters had warned for days that violent weather would strike this weekend, ending an unusually calm weather pattern.

In North Carolina, authorities said an 11-month-old boy died Sunday, two days after a tornado struck his home and injured him in Edenton, in the eastern part of the state. Gov. Pat McCrory toured that and other storm-struck areas Sunday and said his prayers go out to the boy's family. He pledged to seek state and federal government assistance for the victims.

Brandon Morris, of the Arkansas Department of Emergency Management, confirmed to CBS News early Monday that at least 16 people had died in his state: 10 in Faulkner County, 5 in Pulaksi County, which includes Little Rock, and one in White County.

Faulkner County, Arkansas Sheriff Andy Shock told CBS Little Rock affiliate KTHV-TV, "It's just devastating."

Almost 16,000 customers across Arkansas were without power early Monday, Entergy, the local utility, told CBS News.

In Pulaski County, Arkansas, Sheriff's Lt. Carl Minden said three people were killed when a tornado destroyed a home near the Pulaski/Saline county line about 10 miles west of Little Rock. Minden said several others were injured at the scene.

"I'm standing on the foundation of the house now. It's totally gone," Minden told The Associated Press by phone. He said other areas of the county sustained storm damage, but no other fatalities had been reported.

In Mayflower, Jacci Juniel was caught away from her home after leaving to find her son as the storm approached. Her 96-year-old mother, left at home, suffered cuts when the storm blew out a window.

"We had to climb over trees and power lines and under neat trees. I was just trying to get home to my mom," Juniel said.

Vilonia was hit hard for the second time in three years. Four people were killed in a 2011 storm.

"Homes and businesses are destroyed," DeCample said. "The size of the path sounds like a half-mile to three-quarters of a mile wide when it went through."

The Arkansas storm, which was on the ground off-and-on for nearly 80 miles, was one of several tornadoes that touched down Sunday as a large storm system moved through parts of the Plains, Midwest and South.

Storm ratings were not immediately available. Before Sunday, the country had not had a tornado rated EF3 or higher - with winds above 136 mph - since Nov. 17, streak of 160 days, the fourth-longest on record. This also would be the latest date for a storm rated EF3 or higher. The previous latest big storm was March 31, 2002.

Tornadoes also touched down Sunday in Nebraska, Iowa and Missouri. Tornado warnings, which indicate the greatest threat of a strike, were also in effect for parts of southeastern Missouri and northeastern Arkansas as of 9 p.m. CDT.

One of Sunday's twisters touched down northwest of Joplin, Missouri, where a massive tornado in May 2011 killed 161 people, injured many others and leveled a large swath of the city. Sunday's twister didn't hit Joplin.

The first reported tornado Sunday touched down in a rural area in central in Nebraska. The weather service said it remained on the ground for only a short time, and there were no immediate reports of damage.

The Missouri Highway Patrol also reported a tractor-trailer was blown onto its side on Interstate 70 about 30 miles east of Kansas City about 1 p.m. No one was injured. The weather service received a report from Plattsburg, Mo., where an anemometer measured 58 mph before it blew away. Golf ball-sized hail was reported at Overland Park, Kan., and Trimble, Mo.

To the southeast, northern Louisiana and Mississippi were bracing for severe storms along with the possibility of flash flooding. The predictions prompted Barksdale Air Force Base near Bossier City, La., to cancel its air show on Sunday. The National Weather Service said northern Alabama could see rain and flash flooding, while central and northern Georgia could see storms and heavy rain.

Sunday was the third anniversary of a 122-tornado day, which struck parts of Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee, Virginia and Georgia and killed 316 people.

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