Death Toll Jumps to 15 as Severe Outbreak Pounds South; Damage Reported in Louisiana, Georgia, Alabama, Texas – The Weather Channel
Emergency officials say 11 people were killed by a tornado in southern Georgia.
Four people were killed by a tornado in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, Saturday morning.
Homes and buildings were damaged or destroyed in Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Georgia and Texas Saturday.
Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant declared a state of emergency following the storms.
The death toll from an outbreak of severe storms and tornadoes spread across the South Saturday and Sunday morning has jumped to 15.
Georgia Emergency Management Agency officials told the Associated Press that 11 people died in southern Georgia and 23 were injured as the storms hit the area. Agency spokesperson Catherine Howden said Sunday morning that the deaths occurred in Cook, Brooks and Berrien counties.
Two of the deceased were killed by a possible tornado early Sunday morning, officials from the Brooks County Sheriff’s Office confirmed. Both victims were in the same home in Barney, which was displaced onto Highway 122, according to WALB.
In Berrien County, the sheriff’s office confirmed to WALB that at least two people died during the storm, but information is limited at this time.
Tornadoes and severe storms damaged homes and buildings in Georgia, Texas, Louisiana, Alabama and Mississippi after multiple rounds of storms fired up Saturday afternoon into Saturday evening and Sunday morning.
There were more than 200 reports of severe weather and more than two dozen reports of tornadoes so far this weekend as of early Sunday morning in an ongoing multi-day tornado and severe weather outbreak.
On Saturday afternoon, Forrest County Coroner Butch Benedict announced the identities of the four victims: Earnest Perkins, 58; Cleveland Madison, 20; David Wayne McCoy, 47 and Simona Cox, 72.
Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant declared a state of emergency during a Saturday afternoon press conference.
Many survivors, like Darryl McMorris, told stories of the tornado’s horrifying path of destruction. He told the Associated Press that he held onto his daughters as the twister destroyed their house, wall by wall – one of which fell on top of them. They all survived, but their house is a total loss, the report added.
“Is God mad at us?” her daughter asked.
At least 50 people were treated for injuries at area hospitals, Mississippi Emergency Management Agency spokesman Greg Flynn told the AP. Insured damages are likely to top $200 million in Hattiesburg alone, Insurance Commissioner Mike Chaney said.
“You’ve got so many buildings that are for all practical purposes totally destroyed,” Andy Case, a disaster recovery specialist with the Department of Insurance, told the AP.
The city also tweeted Saturday morning that Hattiesburg firefighters and police went door-to-door to rescue tornado victims, and Mayor Johnny DuPree signed an emergency declaration for the city of 46,000 people in the southern part of Mississippi.
The Bossier Parish Sheriff’s Office said that two dozen homes were damaged near Plain Dealing, Louisiana; five of those homes sustained ‘heavy damage’. There were no injuries reported. They did not say whether the damage was caused by a tornado or non-tornadic winds, but the National Weather Service will survey the damage at a later time to make that final decision.
Ten to 15 homes were damaged or destroyed in Natchitoches Parish by reported tornadoes and storms, the Natchitoches Parish Sheriff’s Office said. A few injuries were also associated with the storms, but none were considered life-threatening.
According to the Sheriff’s Department, a man in Point Place, Louisiana “was sucked out of his brick home through the front door and thrown in his front yard.”
Reported tornadoes damaged at least 8 homes in Scottsville, Texas, late Saturday afternoon. KTAL reports that the entire area is without power as crews work to clear downed power lines and trees. Luckily, no one was injured.
“This used to be my house,” Scottsville resident Earnest Marshall told the news station. “The house shifted so covered my head and waited and it just got tore up.”
Mississippi was once again hit by strong storms overnight Saturday with new reports of damage in Lauderdale County. WTOK reports that at least 6 homes in the Lauderdale Community suffered serious damage and that at least one person was injured after severe storms tore through the area.
The state’s Emergency Management Agency said the tornado damaged buildings in Forrest, Lamar and Perry counties Saturday morning. Search and rescue teams were dispatched to help emergency management officials in the Hattiesburg area. Interstate 59 north of Hattiesburg was closed due to debris, and cleanup of the area is expected to take several weeks.
South of downtown Hattiesburg, Edna Smith was sleeping when the twister took much of the roof off her brick home, she told the AP. A survivor of Hurricane Katrina, Smith had lived in the home since she moved from New Orleans in 2005.
“It woke me up and half the roof was gone,” Smith told the AP while surveying the damage.
As she worked to clean up what she could, rain continued to fall, ruining her belongings.
“I don’t know what I’m going to do now. I’m going to try to get some help,” she told the AP.
Officials at William Carey University in Hattiesburg tweeted that there was damage to dorms and several injuries reported on their campus. According to WDAM.com, WCU women’s soccer player Taylor Gautreaux lost three fingers when a door was slammed shut on her hand. Gautreaux’s coach, Danny Owens, told WDAM she’s recovering in a hospital.
“Campus is closed until further notice,” the school’s official Twitter account said. “Students are being escorted from campus. Arrangements will be made for students who cannot go home.”
In addition, William Carey University’s public relations coordinator Mia Overton told WDAM that most buildings on campus had sustained damage.
“(There is) damage to most buildings on campus including cars and a home across campus is damaged,” Overton said.
The NWS surveyed the damage Saturday and said the tornado would be rated at least EF3, with several hard-hit areas still yet to be viewed.
According to the Hattiesburg American, 15,000 homes and businesses lost power following the storms.
Severe weather also hit parts of central Georgia, with reports of wind damaging a Wal-Mart in the city of Warner Robins. The Macon Telegraph reported that Houston County EMA Director Jimmy Williams confirmed significant damage to the store, with water in the aisles and a gas leak. In addition, there were further reports of downed trees in the area and a damaged building at Robins Air Force Base.
Roof damage from heavy winds was reported in Howard, and several structures reported major damage in Washington County.
At least five homes were damaged by a severe storm in Bamberg County Saturday afternoon, according to WRDW.com. There was no indication the storm caused any injuries, but the report also said multiple families were displaced, as some damaged homes were uninhabitable.
More than 100 downed trees blocked roads all over the county, WRDW also reported.
Possible tornadoes were also reported Saturday morning in Alabama, near Toxey and Wetumpka.
Alabama Power reported that approximately 5,150 residents lost electricity in central Alabama, according to local affiliate WSFA 12. Downed trees and power lines were reported in several counties; there also was a report of streets flooding in Autauga County.
One minor injury was reported in Mobile and “significant tree and power line damage from a possible tornado in Choctaw County near Toxey” was also witnessed, according to AL.com.
Pike County EMA reported on Facebook that there were no functioning county sirens to warn residents of incoming tornadoes and advised residents to find other means to stay alert.