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Tornado hits Birmingham, Alabama, as severe Southern weather continues

A tornado touched down in Birmingham and left a two square-mile swath of destruction as heavy rains and flooding hit Alabama on Friday, officials said.

The National Weather Service urged locals to stay off the roads after the twister touched down at around 5 p.m. local time (6 p.m. ET) in Jefferson County, Alabama.

Jefferson County Emergency Management Agency Director Jim Coker said early Saturday that four people had been transported to local hospitals with minor injuries.

Birmingham's city government said earlier that several structures had been destroyed and that first responders were working to rescue people from the debris.

Severe flooding also hit much of the city, with crews using boats to rescue people from submerged cars.

The city government posted a picture of Mayor William Bell directing traffic on a flooded road as rescuers worked to retrieve people.

One woman whose home was damaged told NBC affiliate WVTM that she grabbed her son and said "let's go" as the storm hit.

"When they tell you take cover, take cover," she said. "That wind... just broke out the front window, back window, tore the whole wall down in the back."

Utility company Alabama Power said 10,000 customers were without electricity in Birmingham and west of the city due to storms as of Friday night.

The floods and tornado hit a day after Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley declared a state of emergency following severe weather which had washed out many roads and bridges in the state.

Tornadoes and storms which swept through parts of Mississippi, Tennessee, and Arkansas earlier this week left at least 15 people dead. 

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