Severe storm injures 7, destroys homes in southeast Georgia

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STILSON, Ga. (AP) - A violent storm striking before dawn Thursday injured seven people and destroyed their homes in a rural southeast Georgia community near Statesboro.

Authorities suspect a tornado was responsible for demolishing three homes and heavily damaging another in the sparsely populated community of Stilson, said Ted Wynn, emergency management director for Bulloch County.

No one was killed, but seven people were taken to hospitals. Wynn said three of them were hurt badly enough to warrant medical treatment in Savannah, about 40 miles away.

Wynn said the storm hit at about 4 a.m. Thursday, when the victims were likely asleep. The National Weather Service had issued a tornado warning, he said, but the rural area had no storm sirens.

"There were a lot of abrasions and cuts from metal fragments of the homes they lived in," Wynn said. "The ones that were transported (with injuries), they were all conscious. So we were able to get an account for everyone. We don't believe we've got anyone missing."

The suspected twister struck about 15 miles southeast of Statesboro, home to about 29,000 people including students at Georgia Southern University.

The destructive weather came less than three weeks after a midwinter outbreak of severe storms killed 21 people in the Southeast, including 16 deaths in southwest Georgia. Those storms caused more than $100 million in damage in Georgia alone, according to state Insurance Commissioner Ralph Hudgens.