ATLANTA — At least two people in Georgia have died after severe thunderstorms and tornadoes touched down across the state, Thursday afternoon and early evening.
Georgia officials from several agencies joined Gov. Brian Kemp from the state Capitol on Friday to provide updates on the damaging storms.
During the news conference, Kemp reported a second fatality, a Georgia Department of Transportation employee who died while responding to storm damage. A 5-year-old was also killed after a tree fell on the car that was inside. His family identified the child on Saturday as Egan Jeffcoat.
Officials also noted that aside from fatalities, many people were injured in the storms, with several families displaced from their homes.
Col. Chris C. Wright with the Georgia Department of Public Safety said that overnight, their team rescued students from an undisclosed middle school who were trapped. Kemp described others who were stuck because of the scale of the damage.
"We know of people that were stranded in homes, where literally the house collapsed, and they were trapped in the crawl space," Kemp said on Friday.
Director James Stallings of the Georgia Emergency Management and Homeland Security Agency, or GEMA, reported the agency saw its first signs of tornado rotation just around 3 p.m. Thursday in Troup County. But by the time the storms finished moving through hours later, at least four tornados had touched down in the state. The National Weather Service confirmed those likely tornados on Friday morning, and will be conducting site surveys throughout the day.
Among the hardest-hit places were communities in Spalding County, hit by what the NWS called a "rapidly intensifying storm." Stallings added that the tornado was on the ground there for "a long period of time" and reached a width of 5 miles wide at one point.
Those in that area are now being asked to stay where they are as crews cut through and clear the roadways.
"If you are in those hard-hit areas, do not expect (power) to be back on quickly," Stalling said. "But do not go outside and start messing with downed lines."
GEMA and Georgia officials said there has been no determination yet on the financial damage the storm has caused in the state; according to the Governor, they will assess economic damage after dealing with "life and safety issues and restoring power."
Gov. Kemp and other officials plan to tour the storm damage by helicopter later Friday afternoon.