The Latest: A loud roar and 'let's go guys' as storm strikes

AP News
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Posted: Jan 22, 2017 9:08 PM
The Latest: A loud roar and 'let's go guys' as storm strikes

ATLANTA (AP) — The Latest on severe weather gusting through the southeastern U.S. (all times local):

8:45 p.m.

Residents of Albany, the largest city in southwest Georgia, are reporting trees down, roadside flooding and other damage after being struck by the severe storm system blamed for at least 18 weekend deaths in the South.

Bridgit Simmons was with her parents, her daughter and her grandson in their brick home in that community when the sky grew dark Sunday afternoon.

"I was in the den and I heard that loud roar and I grabbed the baby and I said, 'Let's go guys. This is it.' We laid down and that was it." She said the wind was so loud "you could hear it beating back and forth."

But within a few minutes the storm had passed and their home was mostly unscathed, save for a carport that collapsed atop two cars. And when she opened a door to see what had happened, there was a bright burst of light because "all the trees were gone" that normally shade the yard.

Authorities reported three deaths in the county where Albany is located.

Police cars and fire trucks were seen racing all over with their sirens on and utility trucks deployed with yellow lights flashing.

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7:15 p.m.

Emergency officials are reporting three additional deaths in southern Georgia from violent storms, bringing the overall toll to at least 18 people killed over the weekend by a severe weather system sweeping the Southeast.

Catherine Howden, a spokeswoman for the Georgia Emergency Management Agency, said Sunday evening that three additional deaths have been confirmed in Georgia's Dougherty County. Local officials say search and rescue operations are underway after a reported tornado caused widespread destruction in the county Sunday evening.

Before the three latest deaths were confirmed, Georgia officials had reported 12 deaths statewide. Howden said one of those was reported in error.

Four died Saturday in Mississippi.

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4:55 p.m.

An emergency official says more people have been killed as violent storms tear across southern Georgia.

Sebon Burns, chief deputy emergency management director for Georgia's Dougherty County, said "fatalities and a lot of injuries" have been reported since an apparent tornado cut a path through the county Sunday afternoon.

Burns said he could not give even an estimate for how many people died.

Earlier Sunday the Georgia Emergency Management Agency reported 12 total deaths had been confirmed in three other Georgia counties after storms hit before dawn Sunday.

A wide area of Georgia and parts of South Carolina and Florida remained under tornado watches Sunday evening.

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4:10 p.m.

Emergency officials say the death toll in Georgia has risen to 12 people killed as violent storms tear across the region.

The Georgia Emergency Management and Homeland Security Agency gave the updated figure in a news release Sunday afternoon. The agency had reported total 11 deaths earlier in the day.

Eight deaths were confirmed in Cook County in rural southern Georgia. County Coroner Tim Purvis said Sunday morning that seven people were found dead at a mobile home park struck by an apparent tornado. It was not known if the additional death was discovered there as well. Purvis did not immediately return a phone call.

There were also two deaths apiece in neighboring Brooks and Berrien counties.

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2:30 p.m.

A woman says she and her parents were fortunate to escape with their lives as a storm destroyed their home in rural south Georgia.

Jenny Bullard had her arm in a sling Sunday afternoon as she searched for salvageable belongings amid the rubble that was her family's Cook County home. An apparent tornado smashed through the center of the brick house before dawn.

The 19-year-old Bullard says a wall and a door fell on her, but she managed to reach her father and help free him from a pile of debris. They escaped with her mother through a hole in the wall of what had been a home office.

Out of 11 confirmed storm deaths in Georgia, the coroner said seven people were killed in Cook County. Bullard says it's "a horrible tragedy."

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12 p.m.

The governor of Georgia has declared a state of emergency in seven counties that have suffered deaths, injuries and severe damage from weekend storms.

Gov. Nathan Deal's office said Sunday the emergency declaration includes Brooks, Cook and Berrien counties — where 11 people have been confirmed dead in south central Georgia near the Florida state line.

Also included were Atkinson, Colquitt, Lowndes and Thomas counties.

Deal said in a statement that state agencies are "making all resources available" to affected counties and "our thoughts and prayers are with Georgians suffering from the storm's impact."

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10:40 a.m.

Tornado activity is remaining a threat across south Georgia, where 11 people were killed early Sunday.

The National Weather Service said Sunday that southern Georgia, northern Florida and the corner of southeastern Alabama could face "intense and long track" tornadoes, scattered damaging winds and large hail.

The weather service said that a "severe thunderstorm and tornado outbreak is expected today across north Florida and south Georgia, with the significant severe threat also expected to extend southward into central Florida and northeastward into South Carolina this evening."

Four people were killed in a tornado in Mississippi on Saturday.

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10 a.m.

A coroner says seven people have been confirmed dead at a mobile home park in south Georgia after a powerful storm tore through the area overnight.

Cook County Coroner Tim Purvis said an apparent tornado "leveled" numerous mobile homes before dawn Sunday in the park near Adel. He said emergency responders were still searching for survivors hours later.

Purvis estimated the park has about 40 mobile homes total and roughly half of them were destroyed.

Catherine Howden of the Georgia Emergency Management Agency put the death toll from severe weather in the state to 11, with 23 injured. She said the deaths occurred in Cook, Brooks and Berrien counties near the Georgia-Florida line.

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9:45 a.m.

A coroner says at least five people have been confirmed dead at a mobile home park in south Georgia that was devastated by a powerful storm overnight.

Brooks County Coroner Michael Miller said Sunday he was called to assist in neighboring Cook County, where an apparent tornado that struck before dawn left "mobile homes thrown everywhere." Miller said emergency responders were still searching the debris for survivors hours later.

Miller said two people died in Brooks County when an apparent tornado tossed a mobile home roughly 100 yards into the middle of a highway.

Catherine Howden of the Georgia Emergency Management Agency put the death toll from severe weather in the state to 11, with 23 injured. She said the deaths occurred in Cook, Brooks and Berrien counties near the Georgia-Florida line.

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8:52 a.m.

State emergency management officials say 11 people are dead and 23 are injured after severe weather struck central Georgia.

Catherine Howden of the Georgia Emergency Management Agency said Sunday morning that the deaths occurred in Cook, Brooks and Berrien counties.

She said the deaths were related to severe weather but could not specify whether tornadoes were the cause. Tornado warnings had been issued for parts of Georgia overnight.

Local officials are still assessing the area. No other information was immediately available.