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Toddler Missing After Dozens of Tornadoes, Severe Storms Kill 20 in South

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Toddler Missing After Dozens of Tornadoes, Severe Storms Kill 20 in South

Post by Harry on Tue Jan 24, 2017 10:56 am

Toddler Missing After Dozens of Tornadoes, Severe Storms Kill 20 in South

By Eric Chaney

Jan 23 2017 07:45 PM EST


Devastation in South Georgia After Tornado

Story Highlights

Authorities are searching for a missing toddler in Dougherty County, Georgia.

States of emergency have been declared in Georgia and Mississippi.

Authorities said at least 15 deaths occurred in south Georgia alone.

One death from high winds has been reported in Florida.

A search is ongoing for a missing toddler in southern Georgia after deadly tornadoes struck the South, claiming at least 20 lives in a terrifying weekend for the region.

The child's mother told Dougherty County officials the child was swept away by the tornado that struck near Albany Sunday evening, WALB reports. Law enforcement officials in Albany said it could be days before they are able to ensure there are no more victims.

The enormous storm system that crossed the South over the weekend kicked up more than two dozen tornadoes, shredded homes and left other destruction scattered around the Southeast has claimed at least 20 lives after a two-day assault on the region.

Georgia's latest deaths were confirmed Monday morning by Dougherty County Coroner Michael Fowler, who said a total of four people died in the county Sunday after the tornado hit Albany.

(PHOTOS: Destruction in the South)

Emergency officials in Columbia County, Florida, reported one person was killed when a large tree split a home in half in the Lake City area.

The day's deadliest toll came before daybreak Sunday when an apparent tornado blew through a mobile home park in south Georgia — about 60 miles southeast of Albany — shearing away siding, upending homes and killing seven people.

Cook County Coroner Tim Purvis confirmed that seven people died at Sunshine Acres, where roughly half of the 40 homes were "leveled."

President Donald Trump said Sunday he had spoken with Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal and "expressed our sincere condolences for the lives taken."

"Tornadoes were vicious and powerful and strong, and they suffered greatly," Trump said during a White House ceremony where he was swearing in aides. "So we'll be helping out the state of Georgia."

Officials in Albany, a city of roughly 77,000 described the damage looking as if a nuclear bomb had gone off.

"It is just total devastation and destruction," Dougherty County EMA director Ron Rowe said in a press conference. "We have several neighborhoods that have just been removed."

In addition to the deaths in Albany and Adel, two people were killed in the same home in Barney, which was blown onto Highway 122, according to WALB.com. Officials identified them as Jessie James Newsome and Bettie Lee Newsome.

Damage to the Sunshine Acres trailer park near Adel, Georgia, caused by a likely tornado. (Courtesy WALB)

In Berrien County, the sheriff's office confirmed to the National Weather Service that two people died near New Lois, likely in a continuation of the reported tornado that hit Adel.

Russell Nix, 82, and his wife Ann Nix, 78, died when an oak tree fell on their home on Old Lois Road, WALB also reported.

The National Weather service estimates that at least 12 tornadoes hit the state over the weekend. Dozens of injuries have been reported across the region, and others were lucky to survive, emerging relatively unscathed from heavily damaged homes.

"The hall wall came in on me and I fell down. And our backdoor came through and fell in on me," Cook County resident Jenny Bullard, 19, told WALB. "And I heard my dad calling my name ...There was a bunch of stuff on top of him and I just started throwing everything I could until I got to him."

Cook County emergency management director Lamar Ray said Monday night that cadaver dogs have walked through all damage in the affected areas, and they don't expect the death toll to rise above seven in the county, the Associated Press reported. Names were not released, but the victims in Cook County were identified as five females and two males with ages ranging between 18 and 62 years old, the report added.

A Wal-Mart in the city of Warner Robins was heavily damaged Saturday. The Macon Telegraph reported that Houston County EMA Director Jimmy Williams confirmed significant damage to the store, with water in the aisles and a gas leak.

Monday morning, Gov. Nathan Deal added nine south Georgia counties to his emergency declaration, in addition to the seven counties first declared over the weekend.

Hattiesburg saw the most extensive damage on Saturday, where a violent tornado damaged or destroyed more than 1,100 homes, according to state officials. Four people lost their lives after the EF3 tornado hit the city.

Forrest County Coroner Butch Benedict identified the victims: Earnest Perkins, 58; Cleveland Madison, 20; David Wayne McCoy, 47 and Simona Cox, 72.

Many survivors, like Darryl McMorris, told stories of the tornado's horrifying path of destruction. He told the AP that he held onto his daughters as the twister destroyed their house, wall by wall – one of which fell on top of them. They all survived, but their house is a total loss, the report added.

"Is God mad at us?" his daughter asked.

At least 50 people were treated for injuries at area hospitals, Mississippi Emergency Management Agency spokesman Greg Flynn told the AP. Insured damages are likely to top $200 million in Hattiesburg alone, Insurance Commissioner Mike Chaney said.

"You've got so many buildings that are for all practical purposes totally destroyed," Andy Case, a disaster recovery specialist with the Department of Insurance, told the AP.

At William Carey University, dorms were damaged and several injuries reported on their campus. According to WDAM.com, WCU women's soccer player Taylor Gautreaux lost three fingers when a door was slammed shut on her hand. Gautreaux's coach, Danny Owens, told WDAM she's recovering in a hospital.

"Campus is closed until further notice," the school's official Twitter account said. "Students are being escorted from campus. Arrangements will be made for students who cannot go home."

Florida received numerous reports of damaging wind gusts in the Panhandle and across the peninsula. Some of the wind damage reports could eventually be confirmed as tornado damage after National Weather Service surveys are completed.

One person was injured near Lake City after a tree fell and split a home in half. Several trees and power lines were downed in Panama City, and a 68 mph wind gust was clocked at nearby Tyndall Air Force Base.

In central Florida, mobile homes suffered roof damage near Lakeland and Bradenton.

William T. Dwyer High School in Palm Beach County was closed Monday due to possible tornado damage.
South Carolina

The National Weather Service confirmed two tornadoes struck South Carolina over the weekend, injuring one woman. The weather service says an EF2 tornado touched down about 3:45 p.m. Saturday in Barnwell County and moved into Bamberg County.

The woman was trapped in a mobile home that was damaged near Blackville. She was taken to a hospital but there was no word on her injuries.

Hundreds of trees were blown down and several homes and barns were damaged.

Ar least four tornadoes hit the state over the weekend, including an EF2 that completely destroyed four homes and damaged 20 other buildings in Choctaw County.

Trees and utility poles were downed and there was various structural damage in the Pepperell Village area in Opelika, where a tornado touched down Sunday. The same storm tore the roof off of a mobile home in Chewacla State Park in Lee County Sunday, according to NWS.

Louisiana saw five confirmed tornadoes over the weekend, including an EF2 tornado that struck near Plain Dealing Saturday, the National Weather Service reports. The Bossier Parish Sheriff's Office said that two dozen homes were damaged; two mobile homes were rolled and completely destroyed. There were no injuries reported.

Ten to 15 homes were damaged or destroyed in Natchitoches Parish by reported tornadoes and storms, the Natchitoches Parish Sheriff's Office said. A few injuries were also associated with the storms, but none were considered life-threatening.

North of Colfax in Grant Parish an EF1 flipped a mobile home, injuring a woman inside and dropped a tree on another home causing major damage.

According to the Sheriff's Department, a man in Point Place, Louisiana, "was sucked out of his brick home through the front door and thrown in his front yard."

Reported tornadoes damaged at least eight homes in Scottsville, Texas, late Saturday afternoon. KTAL reports that the entire area is without power as crews work to clear downed power lines and trees. Luckily, no one was injured. Saturday wet roads contributed to the deaths of two men in Harris County, Click2Houston.com reports. Three men were in the car driving on Gears Road at 11 p.m. when the incident occurred. The driver lost control of the vehicle, causing them to crash through a fence and into a tree on the north side of the roadway.

The two victims were identified as David King and Joshua Vinson. The third passenger was transported to Memoria Hermann hospital.


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