South Rescuers Seek Survivors After Storms Kill 9
(CTN NEWS) – SELMA, Ala. – After a tornado-spawning storm system plowed through parts of South, Georgia and Alabama, killing at least nine people, and severely damaging Selma, a flashpoint of the civil rights movement, rescuers raced on Friday to find survivors.
Authorities detailed extensive damage that included thousands of homes without power, uprooted trees sent crashing through buildings, people trapped beneath fallen homes, a freight train that derailed amid strong winds, and more.
On Friday, those who had survived gave thanks as they combed through the rubble to see what might be saved.
As Tracey Wilhelm observed the wreckage of her mobile home in Autauga County, Alabama, she remarked, “God was surely with us.”
Thursday’s storm took her mobile home off its foundation and dropped it several feet away in a pile of debris while she was at work. She claimed that her husband and their five dogs scurried into a shed that was still standing.
Later, rescue personnel discovered them inside unhurt.
According to Buster Barber, the coroner for Autauga County, about 100 rescuers, including volunteers and experts, combed through the debris in search of survivors.
“At least 14 counties in Alabama and five in Georgia have reported potential tornado damage,” according to the National Weather Service, which is investigating the twisters.
A tornado in rural Autauga County killed at least seven people, and the tornado’s devastation was consistent with an EF3 tornado, which is just two notches below the strongest category of tornadoes.
The meteorological service reported that the tornado had winds of at least 136 mph (218 kph).
Before the brunt of the weather moved across Georgia south of Atlanta, downtown Selma, which is located around 40 miles (64 kilometres) to the southwest, also suffered significant damage.
As workers combed through toppled trees for survivors, Ernie Baggett, the emergency management director for Autauga County, reported that at least 12 people had been evacuated to hospitals.
According to him, 40 residences—including numerous mobile homes propelled into the air—were demolished or severely damaged.
They weren’t just blown away, he claimed. They were “swept far away.”
In Selma, the city council convened outdoors using cellphone lighting and proclaimed a state of emergency.
According to Georgia Emergency Management and Homeland Security Director James Stallings, a falling tree in Butts County, in the centre of Georgia, killed a 5-year-old child in a moving vehicle. He claimed that a parent who was driving sustained serious wounds.
According to Georgia Governor Brian Kemp, a state Department of Transportation employee was killed elsewhere while reacting to storm damage. He said nothing more in-depth.
Kemp used a helicopter on Friday to inspect some of the worst storm damage. He claimed that rescue workers had to dig inside collapsed homes to liberate trapped occupants in certain locations.
Kemp told reporters, “We know folks buried under the basement of homes where the entire house fell.”
According to the governor, the storm caused damage across the state, with some of the worst damage occurring in Troup County, close to the Georgia-Alabama border, where more than 100 homes were affected, and at least 12 people received medical attention.
Before John Reed joined his wife in a closet where they sought refuge as a possible tornado descended on their Troup County home, she begged him again.
Strong gusts tore off the couple’s home’s roof and threw wooden planks into their SUV’s grill.
John Reed told The LaGrange Daily News that the time between opening the door and discovering there was no ceiling was “about five seconds.” “Everything had simply given way.”
The storm came as people gathered for a wake at Peterson’s Funeral Home in Griffin in Spalding County, south of Atlanta.
A tremendous boom signaled the impact of a massive tree on the structure, and about 20 people scurried for cover in a bathroom and an office.
The funeral home’s chief operational officer, Sha-Meeka Peterson-Smith, stated, “When we came out, we were in absolute disbelief. We were aware of everything but unaware of just how horrible everything was.”
She claimed that a viewing room, a lounge, and the front office were all destroyed when the uprooted tree fell through the front of the building. Nobody was harmed.
The Selma tornado left a broad path across the city center. Oak trees were uprooted, cars were flipped onto their sides, brick structures fell, and electrical lines were left hanging.
Selma Mayor James Perkins stated that despite several significant injuries, no fatalities were reported.
Kathy Bunch was inside when the Selma Salvation Army Service Center’s tornado sirens went off. While a roar reverberated throughout the brick structure, she ducked into a rear room and prayed.
“It removed the roof. It broke the windows, according to Bunch. And I’m just thankful to God that I’m still alive.”
On Friday, as utility poles swung at strange angles and electricity lines sagged in the roadway, Selma workers used heavy machinery to remove shattered wooden framing and damaged siding.
During her visit, Alabama Governor Kay Ivey vowed to encourage President Joe Biden to swiftly declare a major disaster in order to begin distributing help.
According to officials, federal aid will be essential for places like Selma, where over 30% of the 18,000 residents live in poverty.
Selma, which is roughly 80 kilometers (50 miles) west of Montgomery, the capital of Alabama, was a flashpoint of the civil rights movement where, on March 7, 1965,
Black people marched peacefully for voting rights across the Edmund Pettus Bridge and were mercilessly beaten by state police.
According to Victor Gensini, a meteorology professor at Northern Illinois University who specializes in tornado trends, three factors contributed to Thursday’s unusual tornado outbreak:
A natural La Nina weather cycle, warming of the Gulf of Mexico likely caused by climate change, and a decades-long eastward shift of tornado activity.
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