Powerful storms pound several central US states

People make their way through the wreckage of a home damaged by a tornado in Sedalia, Mo., on Wednesday, May 25, 2011. (AP Photo/Dan Gill)
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People make their way through the wreckage of a home damaged by a tornado in Sedalia, Mo., on Wednesday, May 25, 2011.

PIEDMONT, Oklahoma (AP) — In storm-weary middle America, many people counted themselves lucky Thursday after powerful storms swept through the region for the third time in four days but apparently claimed no lives.

Dozens of people were injured, mobile homes were flipped and roofs were torn off houses when tornadoes and thunderstorms hit Indiana, Illinois, Missouri and other states Wednesday evening.

Early Thursday, forecasters withdrew a slew of tornado watches in the South and said the heavy weather that pounded the Midwest in recent days had finally receded. Nevertheless, violent storms could not be ruled out elsewhere.

In southern Indiana, residents used flashlights to check on their homes, barns and neighbors near Bloomington after powerful winds overturned two mobile homes. Crews worked overnight to clear uprooted trees and downed power lines after a tornado touched down in a mostly rural area about 25 miles (40 kilometers) south, near Bedford.

Authorities began assessing the storm damage after daybreak, tallying up the number of homes damaged and destroyed. More than a dozen people were injured, including several children, but those living in the most affected areas said they were relieved no one was killed.

Brad Taylor, who lives in a mobile home park near Bloomington where one trailer was toppled and another was destroyed, said he, his wife and their two children rode out the storm by hiding in a closet. The trailer lost some siding and a window was blown out, but it was still standing.

"I'm just thankful everybody's alive," Taylor said.

Wednesday's storms followed a deadly outbreak of violent weather a day earlier in Arkansas, Oklahoma and Kansas that killed at least 16 people, including a 3-year-old Oklahoma boy whose body was found along a lakeshore near his home Thursday. On Sunday, the country's deadliest single tornado since the National Weather Service started keeping records in 1950 killed 125 in the southwest Missouri city of Joplin.

The weather service canceled tornado watches and warnings for most of Mississippi, northwestern Alabama and central Kentucky on Thursday. Jared Guyer, a forecaster at the NOAA National Weather Service Storm Prediction Center, in Norman, Oklahoma, said the situation had calmed to a "relative lull."

"We don't have any existing watches," Guyer said Thursday. "There is a severe threat, but not on the magnitude of the last few days."