US bishops urge prayer as powerful storms hammer the South

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Bishops in the United States are offering their prayers and condolences after a powerful storm system moved through the southern United States last weekend, claiming several lives along the way.

"I am greatly saddened by the reports of devastation and loss of life due to this past weekend's storm," said Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, in an April 15 statement.

He noted that heavy rain, strong winds, and many tornadoes had left a trail of destruction in the Southeast and threatened to reach all the way to New England.

In his own state of Texas, two children died when their car was crushed by a tree; elsewhere in the state, two dozen people were transported to hospital with injuries.

"As we enter this Holy Week, let us pray for those who have lost their lives and for the loved ones they leave behind and ask the Lord to comfort the grieving and inspire neighbors and people around the country to respond generously in the recovery efforts," DiNardo said.

CNN reported Monday that the storms threatened about 90 million people in the South; over 150,000 were without power as of Sunday.

The Associated Press reported later that day that at least nine people including two children had died, mainly in floodwaters and tornadoes. The latest casualty was a 78-year-old woman who was pinned in her home after a tree fell on it.

Another strong storm system is expected to bring large hail, damaging winds and a few tornadoes late Wednesday from Texas all the way to Wisconsin, ABC News reports. The storm system is expected to move east and pummel the South once more, bringing severe weather and an increasing tornado chance to parts of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. It could then move on to the East coast, leaving 2-4 inches of rain in its wake the whole way.

DiNardo continued to urge prayer for those who died and their loved ones, and for generosity in responding to survivors' needs.

"The gift of Easter reminds us to trust in the Lord, who by his sacrifice on the cross and resurrection promises life everlasting," he concluded.

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