TALBOTTON, Ga. (FOX 5 Atlanta) - Gov. Brian Kemp said more than 20 homes in Georgia were destroyed by violent weekend storms that crossed the Deep South. This after the governor toured damage a day after the powerful storm moved through the state. He said he is working with federal officials to help residents in the long road to recovery.
Kemp declared a state of emergency Monday for three Georgia counties -- Grady, Harris, and Talbot -- that suffered the worst damage. He told reporters at a news conference that Georgia had "thankfully no fatalities. Most of the injuries are not too bad. So we're blessed by that."
Georgia communities were damaged by the same storm system Sunday that spawned an EF-4 tornado in Lee County, Alabama, killing at least 23 people. Numerous tornado warnings were also issued in Georgia, Florida and South Carolina.
Kemp said the damage in Georgia likely wasn't severe enough to qualify for federal disaster aid, though it's too soon to know for sure.
In a series of tweets early Monday evening, Gov. Kemp wrote:
"1/5 @GovKemp: 'I just spoke on the phone with @POTUS. He offered the White House’s full support to Georgians impacted by yesterday’s severe storms and for those still waiting for federal disaster relief for Hurricane Michael damage.' #gapol
"2/5 'On behalf of nearly 11 million Georgians, I sincerely thank President Trump, @VP, and our congressional delegation for their steadfast commitment to supporting farm families experiencing a generational crisis.'"
"3/5 'Let me be clear: Georgia families cannot wait any longer. I urge Congress to approve the proposal filed by @SenatorIsakson and @sendavidperdue as soon as possible. Livelihoods hang in the balance.'”
"4/5 'Regarding yesterday’s storms, emergency response agencies at the state level are working around the clock to ensure every resource is made available to Georgians in immediate need. We will be in contact with our federal partners as we move forward.' #gapol"
"5/5 'Please join me in standing with these families as they begin to recover and rebuild. They need our prayers and support in the weeks and months to come.' #gapol"
5/5 “Please join me in standing with these families as they begin to recover and rebuild. They need our prayers and support in the weeks and months to come.” #gapol— Governor Brian P. Kemp (@GovKemp) March 4, 2019
Talbot County was one of the hardest hit areas. Surveying the area using SKYFOX Drone, FOX 5’s Doug Evans found some houses are just gone. Others have been knocked off their foundations. Dozens of cars are crushed and debris is everywhere.
Among that debris are families who are looking for their belongings in the fallen treetops of Talbotton, Georgia.
At what used to be Ray Jenkins' home, he was standing in the only boots and clothes left. Everything else was taken or destroyed.
"I lost all five vehicles, I lost my house, and everything is just gone," said Jenkins.
At Kelisha Leonard's house, or what's left of it, friends were helping the mother of three salvage her furnishings. SKYFOX Drone got a good look at how the tornado twisted her house off of its foundation. She said she and her children had been hiding in a back room that was destroyed. They all survived.
"The house did a 180-turn and it's just, lights out, like the sound of that tornado will be something I will never forget," said Leonard.
The storm that hit Talbotton is the same tornado which hit Lee County, Alabama, killing about two dozen people. The small town of fewer than 900 is about 80 miles from there. The National Weather Service is investigating the possibility that it was on the ground for most, if not all, of that 80 miles, striking Talbotton with tornadic winds of at least an EF-2
"We're talking 120, 130, possibly 140 miles per hour winds,” said Keith Stellman, National Weather Service. “We're very fortunate that we're not dealing with the same thing they are dealing with in Lee County. Looking at the damage around here."
"We're trying to make the best of the situation, just trying to make the best of it," said Leonard. "And for it to do this to the city, is really heartbreaking and shocking and devastating. But you got to make the best of the situation, pray God will answer it, and be by your side, and all we got to do is stick together."
More than a dozen people in Talbotton were taken to the hospital to the hospital. One suffered a broken leg, but most had scraped and bruises. Thankfully, there were no deaths due to the storm.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.