A 2-year-old is believed to be among the missing after a series of deadly tornadoes wreaked havoc in parts of the South this weekend, according to authorities.
Chris Cohilas, a commissioner in Dougherty County in south Georgia, said authorities began searching for the child after the mother reported that her 2-year-old “had been swept away during the tornado.”
Tornadoes raged from early Saturday through Sunday in areas from Mississippi to the Florida Panhandle, parts of Alabama and south Georgia. At least 20 people died from severe weather in the South, and many more lost homes in the destruction.
The last tornado in Georgia was on the ground for over an hour and covered four counties, a Georgia Emergency Management Agency spokesperson said this afternoon.
“It is total devastation and destruction,” said Ron Rowe, emergency medical services director in the Georgia city of Albany. “We have multiple neighborhoods that have totally been ‘removed,’ if I can use that word.”
Cohilas said, “We have people who have no home, no food, no warmth, and no hope.”
Search and rescue operations are underway in affected areas and shelters are being quickly set up to help families, according to the Georgia Emergency Management Agency.
Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal said this afternoon that 16 counties will be under a state of emergency; he said there were 15 confirmed dead in those counties.
Deal said he spoke with President Donald Trump and will ask for a federal emergency declaration and assistance.
Earlier today, Cohilas appealed for quicker relief.
“We’ve been begging for FEMA’s help,” Cohilas said. “To get caught up in bureaucratic red tape during this time of human suffering is disgraceful.”
The president expressed condolences to the people affected by the tornadoes yesterday.
“I want to start off by telling you I just spoke with Gov. Nathan Deal of Georgia, great state, great people,” Trump said yesterday from the White House. “Florida affected, Alabama affected by the tornadoes, and just expressed our sincere condolences for the lives taken.”
“We’ll be helping out the state of Georgia,” Trump added.