Tornadoes Cut Through Georgia, South Carolina
ALBANY, Ga. (AP) _ A tornado tossed cars, snapped trees and ripped the roof off a grocery store, leaving dozens of people injured in a neighborhood still rebuilding from last year’s flooding.
``This is what you call the double whammy _ when you get rebuilt and then get hit again,″ said Maj. Mike Turner, who headed a police command center after the tornado struck Tuesday afternoon.
Tornadoes also raked South Carolina, where 22 people were injured, including a 15-year-old Williamsburg County girl trapped inside a truck by a wind-tossed mobile home.
She was in serious condition with head injuries. The other people were treated for their injuries and released.
The Georgia twister injured at least 30 people _ two of them seriously _ and caused millions of dollars in damage. Georgia Gov. Zell Miller declared a state of emergency in Albany.
Lois Adams’ home was spared, but a tree smashed her car.
``It sounded like an airplane landing on my house,″ she said. ``I’m not scared of dying, but that’s not how I want to go.″
The devastation brought back bad memories of the flooding that struck on July 7, 1994, when the rainswollen Flint River jumped its banks.
``I was in the flood,″ said Cynthia Johnson. ``I think it’s time to get on our knees and pray.″
Fewer than 10 people were staying at two shelters set up at schools by the Red Cross, even though about 150 homes were damaged.
``Most of them have families to stay with,″ Red Cross spokesman Robert Gerbert said.
About 2,900 homes lost electrical power and it was not expected to be restored until today, said Janice Allen, assistant city manager.
South Carolina’s storms raked 16 counties and left a trail of damage. For Morris Dooley of South Congaree, S.C., a few seconds and a slip in the mud made all the difference.
If Dooley hadn’t fallen, the tornado could have grabbed him, instead of simply tearing off his shoe as he crawled under a car.
``My wife shouted `tornado’ and we tried to run,″ Dooley said. ``I looked into the sky and all I could see was tin and pine branches circling in the air. Something pushed me in the back and all I could do was crawl under the back of my car.″
The tornado destroyed a plywood shed and ripped off the front porch and wall of the nearby Nazareth Pentecostal Holiness Church in Lexington County, about 15 miles southwest of Columbia.
In Albany, at least 40 businesses were damaged, city councilman David Williams said. He estimated that the storms caused between $5 million and $10 million in damage.
The storefront at a Winn-Dixie was a mass of shattered glass, fallen insulation and overturned shopping cars after the storm tore off the roof and tossed cars around in the parking lot. About 12 cars overturned.
David Payton was on his way home with his 4-year-old son, David Jr., when the tornado barely missed them.
``It went right over my head,″ said Payton, whose house was spared. ``It hit and bounced over my car. I held my son in a bear hug.″