Seven people have been killed in North Carolina by a tornado sweeping through a mobile home park, officials say.
The tornado destroyed dozens of homes in Rigelwood, west of Wilmington.
Officials in Columbus County said the death toll could well rise as emergency services were still searching for missing people.
Thousands have been left without power and several others have died during severe storms across a number of southern states.
Seven bodies were found in Rigelwood, on the Cape Fear river, as rescuers sifted through the wreckage of mobile homes.
"That number very well may go up," said county spokesman Kip Godwin.
One person died earlier on Thursday in Louisiana, while two died in car crashes in heavy rain in North Carolina, the Associated Press reported.
Some 22 people being treated in hospital in Columbus County and neighbouring New Hanover County, with five in a critical condition, officials said.
Texas and Alabama have also been hit by high winds and poor weather in recent days.