PEMBROKE, Ga. (WSAV) — A storm system swept across the Southeast Tuesday bringing a deadly tornado, baseball-sized hail and extensive damage to Bryan County.
One woman was killed and eight others were injured. On Thursday, the coroner’s office identified the victim as Belinda Thompson, of Ellabell. She was 66.
Survey teams with the National Weather Service in Charleston, S.C. said a preliminary review of tornado damage in Bryan County shows an EF3 tornado. A full report is expected to be published Thursday.
Matthew Kent, a county spokesperson, said the tornado touched down around 5:40 p.m. Tuesday near the Bryan County Courthouse in Pembroke, then moved to the Park Place and Homestead neighborhoods.
Bryan County Fire & Emergency Services reported multiple houses with people entrapped.
Marlee Hassani has lived near the courthouse for about five years and said she and her husband have never experienced anything like Tuesday’s storm.
“Just lots of noise, tree branches hitting the house, things flying by the house,” she recalled. “Just like a train came through, you know, it was just a lot of noise. Scary as anything.”
A large tree fell on the courthouse trapping several people inside the building for some time, employees told WSAV News 3.
Bryan County officials said emergency crews from a number of neighboring counties and cities responded to the area to assist in search and rescue efforts.
The county declared a state of emergency Tuesday night and set a curfew which remains in place for the areas of North Bryan County, including Homestead, Park Place, the Black Creek Golf Course and county buildings.
“This is not the time to be taking pictures and just driving around. Obey all law enforcement directions and keep an eye open for emergency lights,” the sheriff’s office posted on Facebook.
Around 1,400 households were left without power Tuesday night.
City officials are in the process of surveying the area. Officials said there are downed power lines in the path of the storm and advised all to avoid touching any power lines and to report them to power companies.
A Red Cross assisted shelter is now open at Lanier Primary School. Those in need of non-emergency help or wishing to request a welfare check or report large debris are asked to call 912-858-INFO.
Anyone who would like to help those affected by the tornado can contact the American Red Cross: 912-767-2197 for Fort Stewart or 912-651-5300 for Savannah. United Way of the Coastal Empire has established the Bryan County Disaster Response Fund and several local organizations and businesses are taking donations.
Gov. Brian Kemp said the state will do all it can to support those impacted by the storm and emergency personnel responding to the damage.