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Storms wreck US town, flatten houses elsewhere

 Greg Cook hugs his dog Coco after finding her inside his destroyed home  in the East Limestone, Ala. on Friday, March 2, 2012.  A reported tornado de...

APTOPIX Severe Weather

Greg Cook hugs his dog Coco after finding her inside his destroyed home in the East Limestone, Ala. on Friday, March 2, 2012. A reported tornado de...

Powerful storms stretching from the U.S. Gulf Coast to the Great Lakes in the north flattened buildings in several states, wrecked one small town and bred anxiety across a wide swath of the country in the second powerful tornado outbreak this week.
Widespread damage was reported in the southern state of Indiana, where Clark County Sheriff's Department Maj. Chuck Adams said the town of Marysville is "completely gone." Dozens of houses were also damaged in Alabama and Tennessee two days after storms killed 13 people in the Midwest region and South.
No fatalities had been reported in the latest round of storms that were expected to threaten tornadoes late into Friday.
Thousands of schoolchildren in several states were sent home as a precaution, and several Kentucky universities were closed.
At least 20 homes were badly damaged in the Chattanooga, Tennessee, area after strong winds and hail lashed the area. In Cleveland, another Tennessee town, Blaine Lawson and his wife Billie were watching the weather when the power went out and winds ripped the roof off their home. Neither were hurt.
"It just hit all at once," the 76-year-old Blaine Lawson said. "Didn't have no warning really. The roof, insulation and everything started coming down on us. It just happened so fast that I didn't know what to do. I was going to head to the closet but there was just no way. It just got us."
The mayor of Huntsville, Alabama, said students in area schools sheltered in hallways as severe weather passed in the morning. Five people in the area were taken to hospitals, and several houses were leveled by what authorities believed were tornadoes Friday morning. The extent of the people's injuries wasn't immediately known, and emergency crews were continuing to survey damage.
An apparent tornado also damaged a state maximum security prison about 10 miles (16 kilometers) from Huntsville, but none of the facility's approximately 2,100 inmates escaped. Alabama Department of Corrections spokesman Brian Corbett said there were no reports of injuries, but the roof was damaged on two large prison dormitories that each hold about 250 men. Part of the perimeter fence was knocked down, but the prison was secure.
"It was reported you could see the sky through the roof of one of them," Corbett said.
Authorities are confident that storms that hit Limestone and Madison counties were tornadoes, but it will be up to the National Weather Service to confirm the twisters, said Alabama State Emergency Management Agency spokeswoman Yasamie August.
For residents and emergency officials across Alabama, tornado precautions and cleanup are part of a sadly familiar routine. A tornado outbreak last April killed about 250 people around the state.
Forecasters warned of severe thunderstorms with the threat of tornadoes crossing a region from southern Ohio through much of Kentucky and Tennessee. By early Friday afternoon, tornado watches covered parts of those states along with Missouri, Illinois and Indiana.
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Contributing to this report were Associated Press writers Jim Suhr in Harrisburg, Illinois, and Jeff Martin in Atlanta, Associated Press videojournalist Robert Ray in Cleveland, Tennessee, and AP Radio's Shelly Adler in Washington.