At least 12 killed in southern Georgia storms

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COOK COUNTY, Ga. -- At least 12 people were killed in severe weather that struck southern Georgia on Saturday night and Sunday, bringing the weekend death toll from storms to 16 across the Southeast.

The deaths were confirmed by Georgia Emergency Management Agency spokeswoman Catherine Howden. She said the agency was working to assess the damage.

GEMA said eight people died in Cook County, and two each in Berrien and Brooks counties, in a largely rural area along Interstate 75 between Albany, Georgia and Lake City, Fla.

The storm leveled the Sunshine Acres Mobile Home Park near Adel, where seven of the deaths were reported, according to Lamar Ray, Cook County's emergency management director.

"You can imagine putting a bomb in a mobile home and having it explode. That's about what it looks like," Adel Mayor Buddy Duke said.

Duke said five people are currently unaccounted for, and emergency dogs were in the area to "sniff out anything they can."

Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal declared a state of emergency in seven south Georgia counties. He said the state will seek federal assistance as well.

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

"These storms have resulted in loss of life, numerous injuries and extensive property damage, and our thoughts and prayers are with Georgians suffering from the storm's impact. ... I urge all Georgians to exercise caution and vigilance in order to remain safe and prevent further loss of life or injuries."

President Donald Trump offered condolences to Deal and Florida Gov. Rick Scott. Trump said he had talked to Deal and would talk soon to Scott, acknowledging also that Alabama was "hit hard."

The National Weather Service issued a rare "high risk" alert for severe thunderstorms, including strong tornadoes Sunday afternoon and evening for southern Georgia and northern Florida. This is the first high-risk alert issued since June 2014.

Much of the Southeast could also see continuing severe weather, including tornadoes, the weather service said.

The weather service's Storm Prediction Center issued a tornado watch for parts of Alabama, Georgia and Florida. The watch, which includes the cities of Atlanta, Georgia, and Tallahassee and Panama City in Florida, was in effect until 8 p.m.

The weather service also issued a tornado emergency for Albany, a city more than 170 miles south of Atlanta, as a large tornado approached on Sunday afternoon.

(Photo: CNN)

(Photo: CNN)

 

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