Storms continue slamming U.S. South after
killing at least 18
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[January 23, 2017]
By Letitia Stein
TAMPA, Fla. (Reuters) - A dangerous weekend
weather system killed at least 18 people in the U.S. South, with Georgia
officials reporting more than a dozen deaths on Sunday after severe
thunderstorms and tornadoes buffeted several states.
Seven people died in Cook County, Georgia, state emergency managers
said, with a mobile home park particularly hard hit, according to
reports. Photos showed collapsed buildings, destroyed rooftops, toppled
trees and debris-littered fields.
Georgia Governor Nathan Deal declared an emergency for seven counties in
the south-central part of the state, warning that dangerous conditions
persisted as wind and flood warnings remained in effect for much of the
state early on Monday.
"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 news release.
First Baptist Church Adel, located in the Cook County seat near the
Florida-Georgia state line, was sheltering more than 50 people, said
pastor Bill Marlette, who had just helped inform a family that two of
their relatives were among the dead.
"There's a lot of hurting people right now," he said in a telephone
interview. "There's just a sense of shock."
The storms in Georgia, which killed 14 people, followed a predawn
tornado in Mississippi on Saturday that killed four. Severe weather also
injured more than 50 others and damaged about 480 homes in Mississippi.
A few storms continued to threatened coastal areas in Georgia on Sunday
night, said Mark McKinnon, a spokesman for the Georgia Emergency
Management and Homeland Security Agency.
The National Weather Service issued a flash flood warning for Rome and
Calhoun until 3.30 a.m. EST, advising residents to move to higher
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A U.S. Air Force airman surveys debris covering an area of the
Sunshine Acres neighborhood after a tornado struck Adel, Georgia,
U.S. January 22, 2017. Courtesy of Nathaniel Sixberry/Handout via
The system prompted forecasters to issue a rare "high risk" warning
of severe storms threatening parts of southern Georgia, north and
central Florida and Alabama on Sunday, the first such warning since
2014. South Carolina could also see severe weather.
In Alabama, some 29,000 power outages were reported as of Sunday
afternoon, Alabama Power said. Several thousand had also been
without power in Mississippi.
The severe weather was expected to last through Sunday night.
As the system churned up the East coast, emergency management
officials warned New York City residents to brace for winds of up to
70 mph through Monday night, with several inches of drenching rains.
Flood advisories and watches were issued for four of the city's five
On the west coast, heavy rains from a separate system drenched parts
of Southern California, with forecasters warning the storm could be
the most severe in several years.
(Additional reporting by Frank McGurty and Chris Michaud in New
York, David Beasley in Atlanta and Sharon Bernstein in Sacramento,
Calif.; Editing by Andrea Ricci, Peter Cooney, Chris Michaud and
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