• Gov. Kemp declares state of emergency in counties hit by tornadoes

    By: Aaron Diamant


    ATLANTA - On Monday, Gov. Brian Kemp declared a state of emergency in three southwest Georgia counties slammed by a violent storm system that spawned deadly tornadoes.

    The governor’s office said the emergency applies to Grady, Harris and Talbot counties. The declaration frees up state resources to respond to the disaster.

    On Monday afternoon, Kemp held a news conference to talk about the destruction in Georgia. Kemp said, so far, they know that nearly two dozen homes were destroyed and dozens of others were damaged. Several businesses were also damaged or destroyed.

    Later Monday afternoon, Kemp was in middle Georgia to conduct an aerial tour of Harris and Talbot counties.

    Kemp let Channel 2’s Aaron Diamant ride with him as he got an up-close look at the tornado-ravaged city of Talbotton.

    Diamant was alongside Kemp as he consoled some of the victims.

    “Hanging in there? It’s going to be alright,” Kemp said.

    Kayleen Butker described how first responders rescued her daughter-in-law from her home and rushed her to the hospital.


    “She’s bleeding somewhere inside, and they’re trying to find it,” Butker said.

    “We’ll be praying for you,” Kemp said.

    Power crews raced to get hundreds of homes back online. The governor jumped out of his SUV to thank some of them personally, clearly impressed by what he saw.

    “I’ll tell you, that’s what these guys do. When it’s their time, they’ll work 24 hours a day to get power back on. They obviously know how cold it’s going to be tonight and tomorrow night,” Kemp said.

    The governor tweeted that her spoke with President Donald Trump about the storm damage.

    The storms killed at least 23 people in eastern Alabama and left a widespread trail of damage and destruction that also injured more than 40 people across Alabama, Georgia and Florida. So far, more than a dozen tornadoes have been confirmed by the National Weather Service.

    Here's a breakdown of the Georgia storms by the numbers:

    • 3 counties are under a State of Emergency in Georgia
    • 57 tornado warnings and 49 severe thunderstorm warnings were issued between 1 p.m. and 9 p.m. Sunday
    • 2,000-3,000 homes are without power
    • 19 homes destroyed in Crawford, Stewart and Talbot counties
    • 6 homes with major damage in Stewart, Talbot and Twiggs counties
    • 13 homes with minor damage in Bibb, Harris, Twiggs and Wilkinson counties
    • 12 injuries reported, all non-life-threatening:
      • 1 in Crawford County
      • 1 in Harris County
      • 2 in Grady County
      • 1 in Miller County
      • 7 in Talbot County
    • No deaths were reported in Georgia

    Our investigative partners at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and AJC.com contributed to this report.

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