ATLANTA (CNN) — Eleven people were killed in severe weather that struck southern Georgia in the overnight hours Saturday (Jan. 21) into Sunday (Jan.22).
The deaths were confirmed by Georgia Emergency Management Agency spokeswoman Catherine Howden. She said the agency was working to assess the damage.
Gov. Nathan Deal declared a state of emergency in seven south Georgia counties. He said the state will seek federal assistance, as well.
“These storms have devastated communities and homes in South Central Georgia, and the state is making all resources available to the impacted areas,” Deal said in a statement. “These storms have resulted in loss of life, numerous injuries and extensive property damage, and our thoughts and prayers are with Georgians suffering from the storm’s impact … I urge all Georgians to exercise caution and vigilance in order to remain safe and prevent further loss of life or injuries.”
The National Weather Service issued a rare “high risk” alert for severe thunderstorms, including strong tornadoes Sunday (Jan. 22) afternoon and evening for southern Georgia and northern Florida. This is the first high-risk alert issued since June 2014.
Much of the Southeast could also see continuing severe weather, including tornadoes, the weather service said.
A fatal tornado struck southern Mississippi on Saturday (Jan. 21), as severe weather gripped much of the Southeast. Preliminary damage assessments conducted in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, on Saturday showed the tornado packed winds reaching between 136 and 165 mph.
It killed four people and injured at least 20 more in Forrest County, the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency said. Most damage was near the cities of Hattiesburg and Petal.
Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant declared a state of emergency.