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Breaking News

Killer Storms Slamming Communities Across Southeast; At Least 11 Dead in Georgia

Aired February 14, 2000 - 7:00 a.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

LEON HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: We begin this morning with killer storms and several tornadoes slamming into communities across the Southeast.

CAROL LIN, CNN ANCHOR: At least 11 people are dead in Georgia, and tornado watches are in effect from north Florida through the Carolinas.

Right now, southwest Georgia is the hardest hit. The Georgia Emergency Management Agency tells us at least 11 people are dead and more than 100 may be injured. Six of the dead are in Mitchell County, near the town of Camilla; five others were killed in the Brady County, where the town of Cairo is located -- actually, of Cairo.

And near Montgomery, Alabama, a photographer -- you're looking at latest pictures here -- of CNN affiliate WAKA shot this tornado as it ripped through their area. The twister downed power lines, damaged several mobile homes and at one business. No serious injuries, though, amazingly were reported in Alabama.

High wind and lots of lightning filled the night sky in Birmingham. Thousands of people across the state lost power during the storm.

In Coleman, officials at the Electric Cooperative estimate 15,000 of their 36,000 customers were left in the dark.

HARRIS: Earlier in the evening, a tornado roared through Lonoke, Arkansas, causing at least two minor injuries there. The sheriff's office reports six homes destroyed; others were damaged by the high winds.

But now, back to the killer storm in south Georgia.

With the very latest details, let's go now to Clay Godfrey. He is with our affiliate WFXL, which is in Albany, Georgia.

Clay, we thank you for talking to us this morning. I know it's been a busy morning for you. You were on the scene. What can you tell us about what you saw?

CLAY GODFREE, WFXL REPORTER: Well, it was just pure chaos. I mean, we got to the scene and went straight to the hospital, and, I mean, there was people waiting outside for their families, and it was a tragic scene.

HARRIS: How many people did you see taken into the hospital?

GODFREE: Well, when we first got there, it must have been at least 10 or 12 people just on stretchers, and at least 10 people, you know, walking in, broken arms, cuts, abrasions, stuff like that.

HARRIS: Now, did you get a chance to drive around the town and look at things for yourself to see how bad the damage is, how widespread it is?

GODFREE: Yes, we did, and it's very widespread. It looks like it hit at least three or four different neighborhoods with trailers, houses, just leveled to the ground.

HARRIS: Did you see any people out walking around in all this?

GODFREE: Yes. We talked to a few. They were asking: Have we seen their families? And, you know, it was just -- it was a horrific scene.

HARRIS: How could -- can you compare it to anything else you've scene before?

GODFREY: No. I mean, I've been through tornadoes, but never anything like this. It was awful. Lots of injured people.

HARRIS: Well, we're glad you made through in one piece, Clay, and we're glad you're able to talk to us and tell us all about this morning. We thank you much. Good luck to you, Clay Godfrey of our affiliate WFXL in Albany, Georgia -- Carol.

KEN DAVIS, GEORGIA EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT AGENCY: Leon, right now we've got Ken Davis from the Georgia Emergency Management Agency on the telephone.

Ken, I understand have some updated figures for us?

LIN: Yes. We have reports of approximately 12 fatalities now in southwest Georgia as a result of a series of tornadoes that went through the area, beginning at approximately 2:00 a.m. this morning. There's a possibility of at least another fatality, but we're trying to confirm that right now. Over 100 people are injured, and extensive mutual aid from surrounding areas and, of course, from the state of Georgia is being provided to the counties that were hit this morning.

DAVIS: What condition are you finding the people in their homes right now, Ken?

LIN: Well, I don't really know the exact extent of the situation with the people in their homes, but we do know that numerous homes have been destroyed, heavily damaged. There was mobile homes as well. And we have received reports of people being trapped in their homes, in terms of downed trees and power lines making it very dangerous for them to get out until rescuers can reach them. LIN: All right. Ken Davis, we're going to be staying in touch with you throughout this broadcast for the latest updates on the situation in south Georgia. Thank you for joining us.

HARRIS: You know, there can't be a more dangerous situation than to have a tornado hit while you're asleep.

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