HomeOutdoorsWeather7 Reported Dead Following Destructive Storms, Tornadoes in Southeast US

7 Reported Dead Following Destructive Storms, Tornadoes in Southeast US

by Caitlin Berard
Aftermath of Southeast Storms, Tornadoes in Alabama
(Photo by Cameron Carnes for The Washington Post via Getty Images)

On Thursday (January 12), a strong storm ravaged the southeast, ripping trees from the ground, leaving homes in shambles, and killing at least seven people.

One of the states most severely impacted by the awful weather was Alabama. In addition to the high winds and heavy rains, a devastating tornado tore through the state, taking the lives of seven Alabama residents. According to a report from the Autauga County Sheriff’s Office, the victims of the southeast storms are as follows:

  • Robert Gardner Jr, 70
  • Deanna Marie Corbin, 59
  • Christopher Allen Corbin Jr, 46
  • Tessa Celeste Desmet, 21
  • Carmen Cox Autery, 59
  • Andrea Sue Taylor, 61
  • Solomon Antiono Smith, 50

Some 40 homes suffered extreme damage in the deluge, and some were destroyed completely, per Ernie Baggett, emergency management agency director in Autauga County. The tornado, at least an EF-3 with 150 mph winds, slashed a path of destruction through the state 20 miles long, leveling the communities of Old Kingston and Marbury.

Alabama Governor Kay Ivey declared a state of emergency across six Alabama counties as search and rescue operations continued into the night. “I am sad to have learned that six Alabamians were lost to the storms that ravaged across our state,” Ivey said on Twitter. “My prayers are with their loved ones and communities.”

Dozens of Tornado Reports Spring Up Amid Southeast Storms

More than 30 separate tornado reports sprinkled the US as the southeast withstood the forceful storms. As night fell, tornado warnings remained in effect across the south, including Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina.

In Georgia, a passenger died when a tree fell, crushing their vehicle. A few miles away, near Atlanta, the violent storm sent a freight train flying off its tracks. In Selma, Alabama, a tornado reduced brick buildings to rubble, tossed cars through the air, and ripped traffic poles from the ground.

Thankfully, the death toll from the southeast storms remains at zero in Selma. However, first responders continue to assess the extensive damage. “People have been injured, but no fatalities,” Mayor James Perkins said. “We have a lot of downed power lines. There is a lot of danger on the streets.”

To protect citizens from the still-prevalent danger, the mayor enacted a city-wide curfew while Selma attempts to recover from the “large and extremely dangerous tornado.”

As of Friday, thousands remained without power across the southeast in the wake of the deadly storms. Many schools canceled classes and travel was discouraged as power lines, downed trees, and other debris littered the streets. Selma resident Malesha McVay, however, is simply grateful to be alive.

The Alabamian was driving parallel to the petrifying tornado, watching helplessly as it headed straight for her home. But less than a mile before ripping her home to shreds, it suddenly veered off in a new direction. “We stopped and we prayed. We followed it and prayed,” she told CBS News. “It was a 100% God thing that it turned right before it hit my house.”