16 state counties under state of emergency after deadly tornadoes

COOK COUNTY, Ga. — Channel 2 Action News has learned the identity of one of at least 15 people killed as tornado swept through south Georgia this weekend.

The National Weather Service estimates that an EF-2 or EF-3 tornado caused the damage. The path of destruction in some areas is 200 yards wide.

The tornadoes are responsible for killing at least 15 people in Georgia alone.

Gov. Nathan Deal put 16 counties under a state of emergency.

Channel 2’s Tony Thomas went to Cook County were a tornado destroyed the Sunshine Acres Mobile Home Park and claimed seven lives in its path.

Among the victims identified was a mother and her daughter: Mary and Jaime Cantrell, 62 and 33 respectively.

Just down the street from them, Amanda Rowe, 41, was also killed in the storm.

Amanda Rowe was one of seven people identified by authorities late Monday that lost their lives in the storms. 

Family members told Channel 2’s Tony Thomas, Rowe texted her sister as the storms rolled in wanting company.

D.D. Tinsley Powell cried as she looked over the text her sister Amanda sent her early Sunday morning.

“Call me when you can please,” Powell said, reading the text to Thomas.

Powell said she didn't see the message until after the tornado rolled over Cook County and the Sunshine Acres Mobile Home Park.

The family said a good friend of Amanda's, Joe Deskins, did go over Rowe’s home Sunday night. Both died when the tornado struck.

“I'm sad that someone else was there and they lost their life, but I knew she had to be scared and I'm so glad she wasn't alone,” Powell said.

Rowe and Deskins were two of seven people identified by authorities late Monday that lost their lives in the storms.

Mary and Jamie Cantrell were mother and daughter. Jamie leaves behind a 5-year-old-son.

Mary and Jamie Cantrell were a mother and daughter who died in Sunshine Acres in Adel, Georgia, Sunday morning. Jamie leaves behind a 5-year-old-son. Their family has created a GoFundMe page to help with funeral expenses and money for Jamie's son.

Alexis Livingston, 18, Adreian Mays, 38, Lawansa Perry, 41, were also killed. All the victims died in the mobile home park.

Family members have set up a GoFundMe page to help with funeral expenses for Amanda Rowe.

The Cantrell family have set a up page as well for their loved ones.


Thomas was with search crews Monday as they brought in cadaver dogs to go through the rubble.

“It completely breaks your heart from the inside,” Cook County Judge Chase Daughtery told Thomas as they walked through what was left of the mobile home park.

Thomas saw cars resting on top of furniture and parts of the mobile homes hanging from nearby trees.

“We have cadaver dogs that are out looking just to make sure we don't have anyone else out here and we are satisfied with what we already believe,” sheriff's Deputy Brent Exum told Thomas.

Ora Birdine said she knew two of the seven people who died at Sunshine Acres.

“We knew them as kids growing up and this is devastating,” Birdine told Thomas.

Birdine and her friends went to the disaster site Monday hoping to comfort the family, but so far the residents have not been allowed back in.

“This whole thing we are doing right now is toward getting people back to their homes,” Exum said.

Video from NewsChopper 2 showed a path of destruction from the storms, blowing apart several homes and a commercial farming operation in between snapping trees in half.

“We don’t look at it as who's family and who's not. Everybody here is family,” Birdine said.

Officials say about 45 homes were damaged or destroyed across Cook County. About 36 of them were at Sunshine Acres.

“Our prayers go out to the families of these victims. Thank you for your support and may God bless, because we’re gonna rebuild and we’ll be back,” Adel Mayor Buddy Duke said. “I’ve never seen the outpouring of love and support within a community that I’ve seen the last day and a half. The churches have opened their doors, the people have done what they can to step up to the plate to help these individuals.”

Authorities plan to escort those who lived in the damaged or destroyed homes to their properties Tuesday morning.

It will be the first time they will have a chance to retrieve any belongings or see the damage since the storm.

Adel's mayor talks about devastation

Adel's mayor choked up while talking about the tornadoes that devastated their community: "We're gonna rebuild and we'll be back." http://2wsb.tv/2iXTf4b

Posted by WSB-TV on Monday, January 23, 2017

This weekend’s storms were the second tornado outbreak to hit south Georgia in the last three weeks.

Sunday’s massive tornado claimed four lives in Albany.

"I consider myself blessed because I was in the area where the roof is still on the house," homeowner Verda Parker told Severe Weather Team 2 meteorologist Brian Monahan.

Parker's house had been home for the last 15 years. She is OK, but her home now looks like a dollhouse, with the front of it torn off from the storms.

She had just finished talking to her children in California when the tornado hit.

"I laid the phone on the bed and I heard the roaring outside of my window," Parker said.

NewsChopper 2 flew over Albany on Monday. Video shows that some houses are barely recognizable and thousands of trees split in two along the storm’s path.

Julian Marcus was home when the tornado ripped through his house. He told Monahan that his neighborhood is hurting and needs a lot of help to bounce back.

"We need help in Albany, Georgia, and the surrounding counties in southwest Georgia," Marcus said.

Officials in Albany told Monahan that they are frustrated by what they see as a slow response by FEMA.

This latest disaster is only making the need for help greater.

Dougherty County Commissioner Chris Cohilas is now reaching out to the Trump administration for help.

"I would ask President Trump to take some significant steps to cut through the bureaucratic red tape and to get us some people on the damn ground," Cohilas told Monahan.

The Albany area was added to a state disaster declaration Monday, making it eligible for state aid and any federal aid.