GEORGIA—A stream of tornadoes that occurred during a system of storms that moved through Mississippi to Georgia, and into northwestern Florida has left at least 19 people dead.
A reported 50 tornadoes touched ground in the South as storms and severe weather conditions struck the area on Thursday, January 19, said Frank Giannasca, a senior meteorologist at The Weather Channel.
In Georgia, at least 15 people were killed after severe weather struck the region on Saturday and Sunday. Before hitting Georgia, the storm wreaked havoc Saturday in Mississippi, leaving dozens injured and at least four dead.
In Mississippi, several victims were identified by the Forrest County Medical Examiner’s Office on Monday, January 23. Among those killed included Earnest Perkins, 58, Cleveland Madison, 20, David Wayne McCoy, 47, and Simona Cox, 72.
Georgia’s Dougherty County Coroner, Michael Fowler, told NBC News on January 23 that at least 4 people died as a result of the severe weather. Fowler added that there was a “great possibility” that the death toll would rise.
“Search and rescue teams are going from trailer to trailer,” said Fowler. “They’re so mangled up and destroyed that we’ve got to go through each one.”
A state of emergency for Georgia was extended from 7 counties to 16 by Governor Nathan Deal Monday afternoon. Deal extended the state of emergency until 12:00 a.m. on Monday, January 30.
“This is absolutely devastating,” said Dougherty County Commission Chairman Chris Cohilas. In a Facebook video surveying the wreckage, Cohilas compared the destruction in Dougherty County to the aftermath of a nuclear bomb.
Seven more deaths were reported in Georgia’s Cook County. Two deaths have been confirmed in Berrien County. The severe weather brought overnight thunderstorms to Central and South Florida.
“The National Weather Service predicts a third wave of severe weather today, which may reach as far north as metro Atlanta. I urge all Georgians to exercise caution and vigilance in order to remain safe and prevent further loss of life or injuries,” Deal said in a statement.