Saturday, January 28, 2023

Survivors found after tornadoes in Georgia and Alabama

Selma, Ala. ( Associated Press) – Rescuers scrambled to find people buried under rubble and rescue survivors from beneath collapsed homes Friday after a tornado that ripped through parts of Georgia and Alabama killed at least nine people. Took out

The widespread devastation came a day after violent storms tossed homes, snapped trees on buildings, toppled poles and trees, and derailed a freight train.

Those who were able to preserve life gave thanks as they rummaged through the wreckage for anything salvageable.

“God was definitely with us,” Tracy Wilhelm said as she looked over the wrecked remains of her mobile home in Autauga County, Alabama.

She was working Thursday when a tornado tore off the foundation of her mobile home and tossed her several feet into a pile of debris. She said that her husband and their five dogs moved into a shed, which had been left untouched. Rescue workers later found him inside.

A search team also found five people, but they were trapped in a storm shelter after a wall collapsed on an adjacent house, Autauga County Medical Examiner Buster Barber said. Someone inside had a phone and was constantly calling for help.

The National Weather Service, which was working to confirm that it was a tornado, said that tornado damage had been reported in at least 14 Alabama counties and 14 Georgia counties. Overnight temperatures were forecast to drop below freezing in heavily affected areas of both states, where more than 30,000 homes and businesses were without power by evening.

At least seven people are believed to have died in rural Autauga County, which corresponds to an EF3 category tornado, just two degrees below the most powerful category. The weather service said the tornado had winds of at least 136 mph (218 kph).

Downtown Selma, about 40 miles (64 kilometers) southwest of Atlanta, was heavily damaged even before the storm moved into Georgia.

James Carter’s home in Selma was damaged when the tornado made its way through town.

“I was at home and I started hearing a small sound like a train. The closer it got, the faster it got. By the time it passed over the house, the whole house was shaking. My mom was lying on the bed, and I tried to put my body over her to protect her,” Carter said.

Autauga County Emergency Management Director Ernie Baggett said at least 12 people were taken to hospitals as rescue workers cut down trees in search of survivors.

He said about 40 homes were destroyed or seriously damaged, including several mobile homes that were thrown into the air.

“They weren’t just shot,” he said. “He was thrown some distance.”

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Martin reported from Woodstock, Georgia. Associated Press writer Sharon Johnson in Selma; Jeff Amy in Atlanta; Russ Barnum in Savannah, Ga.; Sarah Brumfield in Silver Spring, Maryland; Seth Borenstein in Denver; and photographer Butch Dill in Selma, Alabama, contributed to this report.

Nation World News Desk
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