At least seven people, including one child, died after tornadoes ripped through Georgia and Alabama on Thursday. Local officials also grimly say that number could rise as they’re “still searching for bodies.”
On Jan. 12, severe storms blasted through much of the southeast, where intense winds took off people’s roofs and knocked out power for thousands.
In central Alabama’s devasted Autauga County, Coroner Buster Barber told reporters that the death toll could rise as they continue to locate bodies.
On Friday, recovery efforts continued as the ferocious storm knocked out power lines, took down trees, and sent debris flying. According to the Storm Prediction Center, they received at least 35 reports of tornado activity on Thursday night in Alabama, Georgia, and Kentucky.
Sadly, one of the deceased was a five-year-old who died after a tree fell on a car in Jackson, Georgia.
Later, Butts County Coroner, Lacey Prue, confirmed the tragic fatality. As a result, this brought the death toll from the latest batch of tornadoes to seven.
In addition, reports indicate that all of Alabama’s tornado-related deaths occurred in Autauga County. The county is located between Montgomery and Selma in the central part of the Cotton State.
“We have multiple deaths and are still searching for bodies,” Barber told reporters.
On Friday, around 2 a.m. ET, the Birmingham branch of the NWS, urged residents to take cover as they had issued a “tornado emergency” for Autauga County.
Alabama residents recall moment tornadoes rip through community: ‘We could have been gone’
The agency also posted on Twitter, telling residents to “take shelter immediately.” Additionally, the agency reports that one of their radars, following the storm, spotted debris that was picked up and thrown 20,000 feet into the air.
Both governors of Alabama and Georgia have signed state of emergency declarations.
In the Alabama town of Selma, well known for its role in the US Civil Rights Movement, local officials put in place a curfew until dawn. While there were no reported deaths from the tornadoes in Selma, there were several reported injuries.
One Selma resident said he could hear his “roof literally being torn off right over our heads” as the tornadoes ripped through the area.
At a tax office in Selma, Deborah Brown and others had to run to safety after seeing a tornado coming towards them.
“We could have been gone, y’all,” Brown later said in a Facebook video. She added, “We had to run for cover. We had to go run and jump in the closet.”
As of Friday morning, more than 52,000 residents in Alabama and Georgia were without power, according to Poweroutages.us. In addition, meteorologists report that intense winds and wind chill temperatures could plummet until Saturday morning.