MABURY, Ala., Jan. 15 (AP) – An engine mechanic in Alabama takes shelter in a shipping container as a tornado from a violent storm destroys his shop and leaves Two of his neighbors were killed on its destructive path across Alabama and Georgia.
Tragic stories of David Hollon and other survivors of Thursday’s storm emerged as locals combed through debris from the tornadoes and high winds that killed at least nine people.
In rural Otoga County, Alabama, where at least seven people have died, Hollen and his workers watched as a massive tornado headed for them. They need to go to a shelter immediately.
Hollon said they hit a metal shipping container in the back of his garage because it was secured to the floor with concrete. Once inside, Horan began frantically calling his neighbors. But when they heard the garage had been torn apart by the storm, the call kept going to voicemail.
He said the storm passed and they came out, only to find his neighbor’s body in the street. Another neighbor on the road also died, a family member said.
“I think we’ve done a lot better than most. We’ve been hurt, but we’re still here,” Hollen, 52, said in an interview Saturday as he walked among the wreckage of his garage and through a There are old cars, broken glass, broken branches, fields of broken wood, and other debris.
Leighea Johnson, a 54-year-old cafeteria worker who also lives in Otoga County, stood among the wreckage of her trailer home. She pointed to a tall pile of rubble that she recognized as her bedroom, bathroom and kitchen.
Her backyard swing is now across the street, cluttered with a few trees. Her outdoor trampoline is wrapped by another set of trees in a neighbor’s front yard.
“The trailer was supposed to be here, but it’s not,” Johnson said, pointing to a slab of debris. “It’s all over the place now.”
The storm brought powerful tornadoes and high winds to Alabama and Georgia, uprooting trees, blowing mobile homes into the air, derailing freight trains, toppling cars, cracking utility poles and downing power lines, killing thousands power off. At least 14 counties in Alabama and 14 counties in Georgia reported damage from suspected tornadoes, according to the National Weather Service.
Otoga County officials said the tornado had winds of at least 136 mph (218 kph) and damage in line with EF3, two categories below the most powerful tornado category. County authorities said at least a dozen people were hospitalized and about 40 homes were destroyed or badly damaged, including mobile homes that were thrown into the air.
Residents described chaotic scenes as the storm hit them. People rushed into shelters, bathtubs and sheds as the wind hit. In one case, searchers found five people trapped but not injured in a storm shelter after a wall of a nearby home collapsed.
Downtown Selma was wreaked havoc before the worst of the weather moved through Georgia south of Atlanta. No deaths were reported in Selma.
Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp said the devastation was being felt in his state. Some of the worst reports came from Troup County near the Georgia-Alabama state line, where more than 100 homes were hit.
A state transportation worker was killed while responding to storm damage, Kemp said. A 5-year-old child in Butts County, Georgia, was killed when a falling tree fell in his car, authorities said. At least 12 people were being treated at a hospital in Spalding County, south of Atlanta, where the weather service confirmed at least two tornadoes had struck.
Johnson, a cafeteria worker in Otoga County, said she was at work when she learned the storm would pass directly by her home. She quickly alerted her daughter, who was home with her 2-year-old grandson.
“I called my daughter and said, you don’t have time to go out, you have to go somewhere now,” Johnson said, her voice husky. “She said, ‘I’m going to the bathtub. If the house is a mess, I’m going to the bathtub area.'”
The phone dropped. Johnson kept returning calls. When she finally reconnected with her daughter, Johnson said she told her: “The house is gone, the house is gone.”
Johnson said her daughter and grandson had some cuts and bruises but were otherwise fine after going to the emergency room.
“I brought her home and I tried not to let her go after that,” Johnson said. “I lost a lot materially, I didn’t have insurance, but I didn’t even care because my baby was fine.
“It’s really important to me.” (Associated Press)
(This is an unedited and auto-generated story from a Syndicated News feed, the content body may not have been modified or edited by LatestLY staff)