Deadly Claudette strengthens in tropical storm after killing 13 people

Claudette grew more powerful as she roared off the coast of the Carolinas on Monday, regaining tropical storm status after a deadly run through Alabama.

Claudette’s death toll stood at 13, nine of whom died on Saturday in a multiple vehicle crash that also claimed the life of a 29-year-old father of one of the children. Butler County Coroner Wayne Garlock said the vehicles likely hydroplaned on a road submerged in flood water.

As of Monday morning, Claudette had maximum sustained winds of 40 mph, the National Hurricane Center said in an advisory. The storm was located 65 miles east-southeast of Raleigh, North Carolina, and was moving east-northeast at 25 mph, forecasters said.

A tropical storm warning was in effect from Cape Fear, North Carolina, to the town of Duck on the Outer Banks. But the devastation caused by Claudette seems to be coming to an end.

“Tropical storm #Claudette will emerge from the northwest coast this morning, with mostly sunny conditions expected behind it,” the National Weather Service office in Morehead City posted on Twitter.

13 dead in Alabama because of Claudette: The storm will strengthen towards the east coast

The storm was expected to move into the Atlantic Ocean and then head into Nova Scotia on Tuesday.

In Alabama, what was supposed to be the end of an exciting beach trip ended in a horrific 17-vehicle wreck on I-65 just south of Montgomery. A week after starting their trip to Gulf Shores, Alabama, and less than two hours from their home, a Tallapoosa County Girls Ranch pickup truck caught fire, killing eight children inside.

Alabama Sheriffs Youth Ranches CEO Michael Smith said two children of ranch worker Candice Gulley, who drove the van, were among those who died in the crash. Gulley, the director of ranch life in Tallapoosa, was removed from the wreckage and hospitalized.

“Candice has been with us for years as a mother and has raised over 80 children who named her mother,” Smith said. “She’s a great lady who gave her life to raise not-so-lucky children.”

The wreck also contains Cody Fox, 29, of Marion County, Tennessee, and his 9-month-old daughter, Adriana Fox. They were traveling in another vehicle with Fox’s fiancee, who was hospitalized in critical condition.

The crash, which left 17 vehicles strewn along the highway, happened around 2:30 p.m. Saturday in Butler County, south of Montgomery, FTAA said.

Also in Alabama, Makayla Ross, a 23-year-old woman from Fort Payne, died on Saturday after her car pulled off the road in a swollen creek, DeKalb County Deputy Coroner Chris Thacker told WHNT-TV. And a 24-year-old man and a 3-year-old boy were killed on Saturday when a tree fell on their home just outside the Tuscaloosa city limits, said Crime Unit Captain Jack Kennedy violent from Tuscaloosa.

“Our hearts are heavy today as we learned of 2 deaths last night in Tuscaloosa,” the National Weather Service in Birmingham tweeted. “Rescue efforts continue at Jefferson Co for a man allegedly swept away by flood waters. Our hearts and prayers are with these families.”

Contributor: Kevin McCoy, USA TODAY; The Associated Press

Tropical Storm Claudette inundated a neighborhood in Slidell, Louisiana on June 19.

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Harold Shirley

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