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Southeast on ‘high alert’ after tornado kills 3-year-old girl, mother

A powerful storm system that killed two in Louisiana took aim at Alabama and other parts of the Southeast on Monday, bringing strong winds and heavy rains to the region.

Tornadoes and strong winds were likely Monday from parts of Mississippi extending to South Carolina. The greatest tornado risk is centered over southern Alabama, according to the National Weather Service’s Storm Prediction Center in Oklahoma.

A mother and her 3-year-old daughter were killed in Louisiana Sunday morning when a tornado flipped their mobile home off its foundation.

Francine Gotch, 38, and her daughter, Neville Alexander, were inside the trailer when the storm hit the rural community of Breaux Bridge, about 50 miles west of Baton Rouge, St. Martin Parish Sheriff’s Office Maj. Ginny Higgins said.

"It hit the trailer, flipped it and tore its side off," Higgins said.

Alexander’s dad had gone to the grocery store just before the storm occurred and arrived back home to find Gotch and his daughter dead, witnesses told KLFY-TV.

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards put the entire state on “high alert” and urged residents to stay off the roads. He told people that their cellphones should be charged and close by so they can receive urgent weather alerts through Monday.

"It is an extremely dangerous weather event," he said.

A tornado with peak winds of 110 mph traveled for nearly 1 mile on the ground in the rural community of Breaux Bridge, the National Weather Service reported. Higgins said the tornado touched down soon after the warning was issued.

Another hard-hit area in Louisiana was the city of Alexandria, where winds blew off the roof of a gas station and knocked out power to thousands, KALB-TV reported. Customers and storm employees sought shelter in a beer cooler.

National Weather Service meteorologist John Hart in Oklahoma said there was a significant risk of weather for Mississippi and Alabama as the system keeps moving east.

Fire officials in the Texas village of Point Venture said several people witnessed an apparent funnel cloud there Sunday morning. Travis County Emergency Services District 1 Fire Chief Donnie Norman said there were several structures with severe damage.

"There was one home with pretty heavy damage. The roof was completely removed. There was one resident there at the time, but she received no major injuries," Norman said.

A Texas state trooper reported seeing a suspected tornado touch down early Sunday morning near Center Point, Texas, about 55 miles northwest of San Antonio, Texas. National Weather Service meteorologist Yvette Benavides said there were no reports of major or structural damage.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.