On Tuesday, Gov. Phil Bryant declared a state of emergency for several battered Mississippi counties, a declaration that helps get support to victims. He said that at least eight counties reported damage and injuries. Arkansas Gov. Mike Beebe declared a statewide disaster.
"Our main priority is focused on recovery," said John Kilcullen, director of operations for emergency management in Mobile, Alabama.
Officials at the National Weather Service gave a preliminary EF2 rating to a tornado that struck downtown Mobile on Christmas Day. Other tornadoes -- one that went though parts of Choctaw County, Alabama, and ones than struck Stone, Lawrence and Jones counties in Mississippi -- also were EF2's, which have wind speeds (for three-second bursts) between 111 and 135 miles per hour.
The weather service said an even stronger EF3-rated tornado struck Pearl River County in Mississippi.