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Storms sweep across South, Midwest as death toll rises to 11

High winds, tornadoes and unrelenting rain have battered large swaths of the country.

WASHINGTON — Authorities blame severe storms sweeping across southern portions of the U.S. and into the Midwest for the deaths of at least 11 people, including two first responders. 

High winds, tornadoes and unrelenting rain have battered large swaths of the country. 

Officials say a police officer and a firefighter in Lubbock, Texas, were killed Saturday after being hit by a vehicle at the scene of a traffic accident. 

Hundreds of thousands of people were left without power from Texas to Ohio, sections of flooded highways were closed in Oklahoma and Arkansas and hundreds of flights were canceled at Chicago's airports. 

The National Weather Service had reported three storm-related deaths in Alabama.

The NWS in Birmingham said via Twitter that the three Alabama deaths occurred in Pickens County. 

Three other people died in Louisiana since fierce storms erupted in the southern U.S. on Friday.

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Severe thunderstorm warnings had been in effect Saturday morning into early afternoon in parts of Alabama. The National Weather Service in Birmingham warned of possible 70 mile per hour winds, and urged people in the area to take shelter. 

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Fork lightning striking down during summer storm.