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Boy boats through flood outside a house Michael Enclade, 12, paddles a canoe through flood waters outside his home in Lafitte, Louisiana. (Sean Gardner / Getty Images)

Lee Batters the South

Flooding, fires, and tornadoes hit states from Texas to Georgia

By Zach Jones | null null , null
<br />TOP PHOTO: People in Louisiana pile bags of sand to prevent water from flooding their homes. (Gerald Herbert / AP Images)<p>MAP: Strong winds were pushed west into central Texas, spreading fires. (Jim McMahon)<br /></p><p>BOTTOM PHOTO: There were 57 wildfires reported in Texas over the weekend. (Erich Schlegel / AP Images)</p>

TOP PHOTO: People in Louisiana pile bags of sand to prevent water from flooding their homes. (Gerald Herbert / AP Images)

MAP: Strong winds were pushed west into central Texas, spreading fires. (Jim McMahon)

BOTTOM PHOTO: There were 57 wildfires reported in Texas over the weekend. (Erich Schlegel / AP Images)

Tropical Storm Lee struck the South hard this week, following a summer of extreme heat and record-breaking wildfires in the region.

Fast winds whipped heavy rainfall and even formed tornadoes in states near the Gulf Coast. State officials issued tornado warnings in Alabama, Florida, and Georgia. The severe weather comes only one week after Hurricane Irene stormed up the East Coast.

Some of the worst damage happened outside Lee's rainy center. The storm worsened problems in parts of central Texas, where wildfires have been burning out of control for months. Lee's powerful winds spread a total of 57 wildfires throughout the area. Thousands of people were forced to evacuate, or flee, to stay safe. More than 1,000 homes were destroyed by wildfires this weekend alone.

"The wildfire situation in Texas is severe, and all necessary state resources are being made available to protect lives and property," said Texas Governor Rick Perry. "I urge Texans to take extreme caution as we continue to see the devastating effects of sweeping wildfires impacting both rural and urban areas."

Winds in Texas finally began to slow down on Tuesday, giving firefighters a chance to try to contain the fires before they spread any farther.

THE STORM MOVES EAST

Lee was downgraded from a tropical storm to a tropical depression on Monday night. But meteorologists still expect Lee to drop more than 20 inches of rain while moving northeast through the East Coast. Rivers and waterways there are still flooded from heavy rainfall dumped by Hurricane Irene only one week ago.

The strong winds from the swirling storm also helped draw cooler air down from up north. Lee caused serious damage to the region this weekend, but some Texans are grateful for a break from the summer's blistering temperatures. They hope this may be the beginning of the end of the state's historic drought.


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