Over 35 tornadoes ripped through the southeast earlier this week, primarily wreaking havoc on Alabama and Georgia. Following the deadly string of storms, survivors are now speaking out about what they experienced.
An overwhelming majority of survivors feel grateful to be alive as they reel from the overwhelming damage that decimated communities across the south.
In seven states, there were over three dozen reports of tornadoes. However, reports will take days to complete to determine how many tornadoes actually made landfall.
Sadly, one of those tornadoes took the lives of at least seven people in Alabama’s Autauga County in the central part of the state. The twister destroyed homes and businesses, uprooted trees, and knocked out power for thousands.
One of the survivors, Jerry Husted, later revealed to news outlets that he huddled in the floorboards of his car as a deadly tornado made landfall in Autauga County, Alabama. Husted recounted the harrowing event during an emotional interview.
Survivors recount harrowing moments tornadoes hit their towns: ‘Everything was gone’
“And then it picked the car up, spun it around, slammed it down,” he recalled. “When it all stopped, I looked, everything was gone. Everything.
In addition, Autauga resident Tracey Wilhelm was at work on Thursday when a tornado ripped through the town. At the time, the tornado lifted up her mobile home off its foundation, and it turned into a massive pile of debris. Thankfully, her husband and their dogs, who were at home at the time, survived.
“God was sure with us,” recalled Ben Alexander as he described the terrifying scene inside a Walmart in Griffin, Georgia. “Lights went off, part of the roof fell off, rainwater coming in, everybody screaming, running.”
He also said he had to pull off the road and seek cover inside the store. Meanwhile, the twisters picked up cars and other debris in parking lots, flinging it effortlessly into the air.
Thankfully, those inside the store were safe, and Alexander was thankful he got refuge in time.
“I was very very happy with that decision because if I wouldn’t have, I would have definitely been right in the middle of it, no doubt about it,” he said.
According to Ernie Baggett, Autauga County’s Emergency Management director, officials are continuing searches for those unaccounted for. However, Baggett also noted that, at this time, it’s unclear how many people are actually missing versus those who just haven’t been in touch with loved ones.
In addition, Baggett said that choosing to keep students in school also saved people’s lives. As he describes, many homes destroyed by the storms were empty, as many were either in school or at work.
As for the damage, Baggett admitted that it is “some of the worst we’ve seen.”