Rescue and search efforts continued in the south a day later on Friday Severe storms And the tornado hit the region, killing at least nine people, blowing roofs off homes and knocking out power to thousands.
At least seven people were killed in Autauga County in central Alabama, and two more — including a 5-year-old boy — were killed in Georgia, authorities said. In those states and Kentucky, at least 37 Preliminary Hurricane Reports The storms damaged power lines, snapped tree branches and sent debris flying into the streets.
A particularly damaging storm with at least one powerful tornado tore through both Selma – the Alabama city. Its role in the Civil Rights Movement – and a community in Autauga County, located east of the county, National Weather Service said.
Searches continued Friday in Autauga County because officials still don’t know the accounts of everyone who lived in the damaged homes, state Emergency Management Director Ricky Adams told CNN on Friday.
“Our priority today continues again to save lives in any area where search and rescue is conducted,” said Adams, who put the county’s death toll at seven.
Coroner Buster Barber said earlier that authorities there Friday morning “found more bodies.” It was not immediately clear if that was reflected in the toll.
Autauga County Emergency Management Agency Director Ernie Baggett told CNN Friday afternoon that the search-and-rescue phase of the response efforts will transition to the rescue phase on Saturday.
In nearby Dallas County, a major tornado hit Widespread destruction Selma is home to about 17,000 people. At a Selma tax office, Deborah Brown and others rushed to safety after seeing a tornado roll down the street, she said.
“We could be gone,” Brown said in a Facebook video. “We had to run for cover. We had to run and jump on the shelf.
Although the damage was “extensive,” Selma Mayor James Perkins Jr. said Friday that there were no casualties. A third of the community was “directly hit,” the mayor said.
Hurricane Selma is rated EF-2That means winds of at least 111 mph, the weather service said said. Meanwhile, wind intensity was assessed in neighboring Autauga County EF-3That means winds of at least 136 mph – weather service said.
“Although these areas were damaged by a single storm, it is not yet known if there was any sustained damage,” the weather service said. A day earlier, a weather service meteorologist said Hurricane Selma may have been at least 50 miles off the ground.
The damage was “much worse than I thought,” Alabama Gov. Kay Ivy said during a visit to Selma on Friday. “The roofs are gone and the trees are like toothpicks.”
A 5-year-old child died after a tree fell on a car in Butts County, central Georgia, the county coroner’s office said. A state employee died after falling into debris while responding to the storms, Gov. Brian Kemp said Friday.
Thursday’s severe storms left about 40,000 homes and businesses still in the dark across Georgia and Alabama, the watchdog said. PowerOutage.us.
Experts pointed out that the storms marked the latest severe weather to turn deadly in the United States Human-induced climate crisis A reason for such extreme events. Millions of people have been left reeling from weeks of torrential rains in California At least 18 people were killed Thousands more were left without power.
Selma’s mayor asked residents to conserve water after damaging treatment facilities and storms led to much colder, though sunny weather across the region.
“We need to layer up and be ready,” Perkins said as the next several days plunged below freezing overnight.
Governors in Alabama and Georgia declared states of emergency in affected areas to aid recovery and cleanup efforts.
On Friday, Ivey said he would encourage President Joe Biden to declare a state of emergency.
In addition to the tornado and storm damage, damaging winds swept across the region from Mississippi to Virginia.
Across South and Central America, more than 160 damaging wind reports were recorded in Mississippi, Georgia, Florida, South Carolina, North Carolina, Tennessee, Kentucky and Virginia. Nineteen severe hail reports were recorded in Kentucky, Ohio, Alabama, West Virginia, Mississippi, Tennessee, and Georgia.
In northeast Mississippi, several buildings were flattened or severely damaged as a storm passed through Monroe County Thursday morning, a video tweeted by the state’s emergency management agency showed. The agency said there were no injuries.
Tornado damage in Dallas County, Alabama — home to Selma — stretched the length of the county, Coroner William Allen Dailey said in a video conference.
Chrishun Moore’s home in Selma collapsed when a storm sent him and his mother sheltering in a bathroom. “All we heard was wind and the whole house shaking,” Moore told CNN, adding that no one was hurt.
Priscilla Lewis, who shared photos with CNN, said the damage in downtown Selma made it impossible to evacuate the area Thursday. No deaths were reported in Dallas County as of Thursday, but some residents were injured.
“This is a disaster area. Power lines are down and trees are down — it’s very dangerous,” Dallas County Probate Judge Jimmy Nunn said during a news conference.
In neighboring Autauga County, at least 20 homes were damaged or destroyed, said Gary Weaver, deputy director of the county’s emergency management agency.
Damage assessment crews will be in the field throughout the region for the next few days, the National Weather Service in Birmingham said.
As storm damage blocked roads in Georgia, some students were unable to leave four middle schools south of Atlanta, their school system said Thursday night.
By Friday morning, more than two dozen students had been reunited with their families after storm debris forced them to shelter on school grounds, the Griffin-Spalding County School System said in a social media post.
Spalding County declared a state of emergency Thursday due to tornadoes reported there, officials said on Facebook, urging residents to shelter in place. Parts of the state remained under a tornado watch on Thursday night.
“When you start going down the roads, there’s no way to get where you’re going,” said Spalding County Public Works Director DJ Imberger.
The Griffin-Spalding School District will be closed Friday as the area undergoes restoration.
In Alabama, Selma City Schools said A statement Many families in the district have been displaced by the storm.
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