Deadly weekend weather: 14 dead, 16 counties under state of emergency

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Albany, Georgia

It was a deadly and dangerous weather weekend in Georgia with widespread reports of deaths, injuries and damage from multiple severe weather outbreak. Officials said 14 people are dead and dozens other injured. Meanwhile, Georgia's governor has expanded a state of emergency for portions of the state.

Authorities also reported four deaths Saturday in Mississippi as the storm system ramped up, bringing the total death toll to 18. The storm was so big parts of it threatened the Carolinas and north Florida.

Late Sunday night, those storms moved out of the state, giving some residents a look at the destruction left behind. Just hours earlier, they were passing through Albany and Dougherty County, which are now being described as a war zone. 

The powerful storm destroyed homes, snapped trees and blew vehicles off the road. The Dougherty County Coroner confirms 4 people in the county lost their lives in this storm. Local authorities say dozens were hurt.

As damage assessments continue in the county, several roads and schools are closed in the area. 

Governor Nathan Deal declared a state of emergency in the following 16 counties: Atkinson, Baker, Berrien, Brooks, Calhoun, Clay, Colquitt, Cook, Crisp, Dougherty, Lowndes, Mitchell, Thomas, Turner, Wilcox and Worth. Mitchell and Dougherty Counties.

Vanessa Jones lives on Holly Road in Albany. She said she heard the storm coming and ran for cover.

“I could hear the wind and it felt like it was on top of our house, so my whole family took shelter in the restroom and stayed there until it was quiet, then we looked out and saw damage everywhere,” said Jones.

VIDEO REPORT: Albany hit hard by severe weather outbreak

Dougherty County Commission Chairman Chris Cohilas said a mobile home park called Paradise Village, took a direct hit.

“It looks like somebody took a trailer park and threw it across the street,” said Cohilas.

Melissa Hagan lives in Paradise Valley and said she hasn’t been able to get in to see if her house is even still standing.

“We can’t go home because the roads are shut down and we don’t know what we can save, if anything,” said Hagan.

More than 100 first responders and volunteers answered a call to action in response to the storm. The damage is significant, and local authorities don’t yet know how widespread.

“As we were out doing search and rescue early on, we kept getting more information about other parts of the county that were hit,” said Dougherty County EMA director Ron Rowe.

Many who no longer have a home are spending the night at the Civic Center. The Red Cross is on hand to assist them.

That was just the last in a series of reports over the weekend of damaging storms. Just before dawn Sunday, officials in Cook County, just south of Tifton, said a tornado tore through a mobile home park near Adel. Coroner Tim Purvis said the storm leveled about half of the 40 mobile homes in the park and left seven people dead.  Hours after the storm hit, rescue workers continued searching the area for survivors.

Two more people died in neighboring Brooks County, when an apparent tornado tossed a mobile home about 100 yards into the middle of a highway, authorities said.

One death in Berrien County also was being blamed on the severe weather outbreak.

PHOTOS: Severe storms hit Georgia

Officials are still assessing the full scope of the damage in central and south Georgia. The National Weather Service said there are so many different locations to survey, their teams may not get to them all on Monday. The NWS said they will be looking at the hardest hit areas first and should have some preliminary information by Monday evening of at least of the areas.

Georgia Governor Nathan Deal declared a state of emergency Sunday for seven South Georgia counties, including Atkinson, Berrien, Brooks, Colquitt, Cook, Lowndes and Thomas. The declaration will remain in effect for the next seven days.

“These storms have devastated communities and homes in South Central Georgia, and the state is making all resources available to the impacted areas,” said Deal.

President Donald Trump has spoken with Gov. Deal to express his condolences about those killed by the powerful tornadoes that have ripped through his state.

Trump described the tornadoes as vicious and powerful during remarks in the East Room of the White House during his second full day in office.

He later spoke with Gov. Rick Scott of Florida expressing similar concern as strong storms moved through the state.

U.S. Senator David Perdue said he help recovery anyway he can.

“Our thoughts go out to the Georgians impacted by these dangerous storms, especially the victims who tragically lost their lives,” Senator Perdue said in a statement sent to FOX 5 News. “My office has been in touch with the Governor’s office and we stand ready to do all we can to assist Georgians in need.”

Across the Southeast, 18 people have died with several dozen injuries reported. Four died Saturday in Mississippi.

The Associated Press contributed to this article

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