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Southern Storms Leave Death and Destruction

National

A tornado caused significant damage in Selma. | Image by Dennis Palmer/The Selma-Times Journal.

Tornadoes and storms with high winds tore through the southern U.S. on Thursday, killing seven, including a 5-year-old boy in Butts County, Georgia.

The child died after the car he and his mother were traveling in was hit by a falling tree, Fox News reported. The mother sought medical treatment for her injuries but has since been released from the hospital.

“Our entire family is heartbroken over this tragedy,” Georgia Governor Brain Kemp posted on social media in response to the child’s death. “As we continue to monitor state response to these storms, we are praying for this family as they mourn this terrible loss.”

Kemp, Georgia Lieutenant Governor Burt Jones, and the state’s emergency services director assessed some of the damage in Georgia aboard a helicopter early Friday.

Some 86,000 customers across the state were left without electricity due to downed power lines.

A train in Butts County appeared to have been knocked off the tracks by strong winds.

In Griffin, Georgia, just south of Atlanta, the roof was partially torn off a Hobby Lobby store, and fallen trees pinned residents inside a house and an apartment complex.

Alabama was also battered by the tornado outbreak. In historic Selma, the storms left behind a swath of collapsed buildings, uprooted trees, flipped cars, and dangling power lines. City Council members met by the light of their cellphones to declare a state of emergency for the city.

No deaths were reported, but Selma Mayor James Perkins said several people were injured. He warned residents of continued danger from downed power lines.

In Autauga County, about 40 miles to the northeast, six people died, and 12 others were hospitalized due to injuries from the tornadoes, according to Ernie Baggett, the county’s emergency management director.

At least 40 homes were estimated destroyed or damaged by a tornado that cut a 20-mile path through two rural communities in the county.

Across Alabama, approximately 40,000 customers lost power due to the storms.

The National Weather Service reported 33 tornadoes on Thursday in different parts of the country. Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, Tennessee, and South Carolina all had brief tornado warnings.

The reports of tornadoes have not yet been confirmed, and some may be reclassified after damage assessments are done over the next few days, WFAA reported.

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