Death toll hits 12 after early storms; tornado watch continues in metro Atlanta
A tornado was spotted about 4 p.m. near Albany and a watch is in effect for Cobb, Fulton and other counties until 8 p.m., according to the National Weather Service.
Albany Deputy Fire Chief Sebon Burns said a tornado touched down around 3 p.m. No fatalities had been reported by 4:30 p.m., but lots of people were injured.
He said they are rescuing people from homes.
Emergency operators said it started in south Albany and south of the airport before heading toward Radium Springs Road around Holly Road and Mock Road.
It also hit East Albany.
Coweta, Heard, Troup, and Carroll counties are under a severe thunderstorm warning until 4:30 p.m., Channel 2 Action News meteorologist Brian Monahan said.
Quarter-sized hail and wind gusts 55 mph and up are expected.
The watch follows deadly storms that killed 12 people and injured 23 in South Georgia Sunday and led Gov. Nathan Deal to declare a state of emergency in seven South Central Georgia counties.
MORE: President Donald Trump on Sunday called Deal to offer condolences.
Eight people were killed at a mobile home park in Cook County, Coroner Tim Purvis told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Photos: Severe storms in Georgia cause deaths, devastation
The scene at Sunshine Acres Mobile Home Park just south of Adel, in Cook County, was one of extraordinary devastation.
“Trailers are just flat, just laid on top of people,” said rescue worker Debbie Van Brackel. “You need a bulldozer to pull it off. Trailers are upside down.”
Van Brackel, who is both a school bus driver and a volunteer firefighter and EMT, said she had assisted in removing bodies from the wreckage today. She said about a dozen trailers had been overturned and destroyed.
Across the fields, you could see mobile homes standing upright, damaged only slightly, torn wreckage that bore no resemblance to the homes they once were, and homes in between. Cadaver dogs and a continuing stream of utility trucks and lumber trucks rolled into and out of the park.
Families seeking information about missing individuals are urged to contact the Adel First Assembly of God located at 1601 Massee Post Road at (229) 896-3935 or (229) 561-2875. First Baptist Church of Adel located at 200 East 5th Street can be contacted at (229) 561-1201.
Both churches have been designated as shelters.
“Eatonton, Thomaston and into Upton counties are at risk for severe thunderstorms, large hail and isolated tornado risk,” Monahan said. “Be very weather aware.”
RELATED: Atlanta makes top-10 list of tornado-prone cities
NOAA’s Storm Prediction Center has issued a high-risk severe weather outlook continuing today for South Georgia, as well as parts of Alabama and Florida. The Center also said supercell thunderstorms could spawn tornadoes.
As of 2:47 p.m., fewer than 2,5 00 people were without power as a result of 251 outages statewide, according to Georgia Power.
Two people died in a Barney home that was thrown onto Highway 122 in Brooks County, Sheriff Mike Dewey said.
The South Georgia Medical Center hasn’t taken any casualties, but spokeswoman Laura Love said staff has cared for 17 injured, including three children.
“It’s something you never really get ready for,” Love said. “When something catastrophic happens it takes your breath away.”
She said the hospital held over staff that was supposed to get off at 7 a.m. to avoid backlogs of patients.
Berrien County Coroner Robert S. Lovein Jr. said the damage is extensive and “terrible” where two people died early Sunday.
At least three more injuries were confirmed in Thomas County.
The sheriff’s office said a mobile home at Airline and Centennial roads was destroyed with a man inside.
This is believed to be the deadliest storm since the April 27, 2011, tornado outbreak in Ringgold and Cedartown that killed 15. It is also the second major storm to rip through South Georgia this month.
MORE: Six dead after strong storms swept through the South
A state of emergency was declared in Dougherty County Sunday morning as a result of the Jan. 2 storms.
Although the county received extensive resources from the state of Georgia, more than 80 percent of the debris still remained uncollected as of January 21, according to WALB-TV.
Georgia averages 20 tornadoes a year.
Other killer storms in recent years:
March 27, 1994: 18 were killed on Palm Sunday in the Floyd County area.
March 20, 1998: 14 were killed in Hall and White counties.
April 8, 1998: Seven were killed in and around Dunwoody city in DeKalb, and in Cobb, Fulton and Gwinnett counties.
Feb. 14, 2000: 19 were killed in Southwest Georgia/Mitchell County,Grady County, Colquitt County.
March 20, 2003: Six were killed in southwestern Georgia.
March 1, 2007: Six were killed in Newton.
March 14, 2008: One was killed in Atlanta.
April 27, 2011: Ringgold and Cedartown reported 15 deaths.
Jan 2013: One was killed in Adairsvile.
Anyone heading to the Atlanta-Green Bay NFC Championship game at the Georgia Dome should consider severe weather in the area.
MORE: What you need to know if there’s a tornadoWhere you’re most likely to get struck by lightning in Georgia
What’s the difference between a severe thunderstorm watch and warning?
In southern Mississippi, a severe storm, including a tornado, tore through Hattiesburg early Saturday, killing at least four people.
A search and rescue operation continued in Hattiesburg, where violent winds tore roofs off homes and tossed around trees, Mayor Johnny DuPree said.
The National Weather Service is calling for the possibility of severe weather in parts of the South through Sunday night.
Saturday’s storm damage include:
- damage was reported to a Wal-Mart in Warner Robins. Also, trees were reported down and multiple power outages were reported near Ga. 74 and the west side of Thomaston in Upson County, officials there said;
- flood warnings were issued for creeks in DeKalb (Snapfinger) and Gwinnett (Pew) counties, Channel 2 reported.