At least 9 dead and the toll should rise after the tornadoes that ravaged the southeast
At least nine people have died and the toll is expected to rise after more than a dozen tornadoes tore through the southeastern United States on Thursday.
Seven deaths have been reported in Autauga County, Alabama, northwest of Montgomery, according to county Emergency Management Agency Director Ernie Baggett. Six of the deaths were reported on Thursday and the seventh was confirmed a day later.
In Georgia, a 5-year-old boy was killed when a tree hit the car he was riding in. The second death in Georgia was a Department of Transportation employee responding to storm damage, Gov. Brian Kemp said at a news conference Friday.
Kemp said damage from multiple tornadoes was seen across Georgia.
“The storm moved across our state unfortunately, it was a tragic night and morning in our state,” he said. “It’s a very dangerous environment.”
Search and rescue efforts are underway in the southeast as authorities fear the death toll will rise.
In Alabama County, Autauga, crews resumed the damage survey and found at least 40 homes completely destroyed or uninhabitable, Baggett said.
He said he had never seen anything like it before in Autauga County.
“It’s utter devastation,” he said. “There are a few of our county roads where only one or two houses remain that may be habitable.”
Drone video revealed extensive damage in Selma and Greensboro, Alabama, where roofs were torn off and trees felled.
In downtown Selma, some areas are littered with utility poles, trees, and some roads are completely blocked.
The National Weather Service office in Birmingham, Alabama, said it had received “numerous devastating reports of damage” and will be reviewing the damage in the coming days.
So far, an EF2 tornado, called the Delmar tornado, was confirmed in Winston County, north of Selma, meaning there were three-second gusts of 111 to 135 mph, the agency said. Delmar had an estimated peak wind of 125 mph and its path width was about 425 yrs.
EF2 damage was also confirmed in Selma and at least EF3 damage in Autauga County, meaning there were three-second gusts of 136-165 mph.
“Although these areas of damage were caused by the same storm, it is not yet known if there was a continuing path of damage,” the National Weather Service said.
In Georgia, several departments, including the State Emergency Management Agency, are responding and assessing the damage. According to Col. Chris Wright, the Department of Public Safety helped rescue students trapped at a college overnight and reunite them with their parents.
Georgia Governor and Lieutenant Governor Burt Jones conducted a helicopter tour of the damage on Friday.
At least 33,400 homes and businesses in Alabama and Georgia were left without power Friday afternoon, according to Poweroutage.us.
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