Alabama and Georgia: Tornadoes Leave Trail of Destruction

MARBURY.- A car mechanic Alabama took refuge in a dumpster when a tornado sparked by a severe storm tore through his shop, killing two of his neighbors during the storm’s destructive path in Alabama and Georgia.

The sad stories of David Hollon and other survivors of Thursday’s storm are coming to light as residents peer through debris left behind by tornadoes and gales, which are blamed for the deaths of at least nine people.

In Alabama, in rural Autauga County, where at least seven people have died, Hollon and his workers watched as a massive tornado headed their way. They were to seek shelter immediately.

Hollon pointed out that they all ran to a metal container anchored to the ground. Once inside, Hollon began hastily dialing a neighbor on the phone. But when they heard the storm destroy the garage, the call kept going to voicemail.

When the storm passed and everyone got out of the container, they found the body of their neighbor on the street, he said. Another neighbor who lived down the road had also died, a family member said.

Alabama Tornado 2023.jpg

All that remains of a home located on County Road 43 are the foundation after a tornado struck, Thursday, January 12, 2023, in Prattville, Alabama.

All that remains of a home located on County Road 43 are the foundation after a tornado struck, Thursday, January 12, 2023, in Prattville, Alabama.

AP /Vasha Hunt

“I think we did much better than most. We had damage but we’re still here,” Hollon, 52, said in an interview Saturday as he walked through the ruins of his garage and then a road littered with damaged vehicles, broken glass, broken tree limbs, scrap wood and other debris.

Leighea Johnson, a 54-year-old cafeteria worker who also lives in Autauga County, stood among the scattered remains of her mobile home. She pointed to a pile of rubble that she said was her bedroom, her bathroom, and her kitchen.

A swing set that he had in his backyard was now across the street, among some trees. An outdoor bounce house he had fell into several trees in a neighbor’s front yard.

“The trailer should be here, and it’s gone,” Johnson said, pointing to a rubble-covered slab. “That’s how it is everywhere now.”

The storm spawned powerful tornadoes and gales in Alabama and Georgia, uprooting trees, blowing up mobile homes, derailing a freight train, flipping over vehicles, snapping power poles and downing power lines. electricitywhich left thousands without power.

At least 14 counties in Alabama and 14 in Georgia reported damage believed to be caused by tornadoes, according to the National Weather Service.

Autauga County officials said the tornado had winds of at least 136 mph (218 km/h) and its damage was consistent with that of an EF3 tornado, two categories below the most powerful.

County officials have said at least a dozen people were hospitalized and about 40 homes destroyed or seriously damaged, including mobile homes that were blown away.

Residents described chaotic scenes as the storm headed their way.

People ran for shelters, bathtubs and sheds when the gales hit. In one case, a search team found five people, trapped but unharmed, inside a storm shelter that had a wall from a nearby house collapse.

Downtown Selma sustained heavy damage before the worst of the storm moved across Georgia heading south to Atlanta. No deaths were reported in Selma.

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Alabama and Georgia: Tornadoes Leave Trail of Destruction

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