Sumter hospital shows tornado's worst punch - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Two Dawn Hobby Live reports--

Sumter hospital shows tornado's worst punch

It's true... Proof that a tornado can drive a board into a concrete wall, as seen at Sumter Regional Hospital. It's true... Proof that a tornado can drive a board into a concrete wall, as seen at Sumter Regional Hospital.
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March 2, 2007

Americus  --  The parking lot of Sumter regional Hospital in Americus looks like a demolition derby just concluded. It is literally a disaster area. Over a dozen tow trucks are on the scene to haul off the many heavily damaged cars that were tossed about by powerful tornado Thursday night.

When the twister hit about 9:45PM, the parking lot was about half full. Some cars are upside down, and all are covered with mud and debris, and the storm even pelted the area with rocks it had swept up into the air.

The damage to the hospital itself seems staggering. This is where all the patients, doctors, and nurses were when the storm hit. All the glass is broken, the roof is blown off. Staff spent much of the night transporting patients form the hospital to other facilities.

The governor was here Friday morning, and declared Sumter one of six counties in a disaster area.  "I was shocked," said Sonny Perdue. "It was worse that I had feared. The hospital was hit, but the devastation within the area of Sumter Co. and Americus was more than I imagined. The businesses around the hospital are totally destroyed. Power is still not restored I many places. It's just a blessing frankly that we didn't have more fatalities than we did."

State Fire and Insurance Commissioner John Oxendine was also on hand, and said this is the worst he's seen. "This is my 13th year in office, and this is by far the most wide-spread damage we've ever seen. Until this, the worst was the 1998 tornadoes in Dekalb County and Gwinnett County. This is a broader area, and more e[people affected, and may exceed in dollar value."

Sumter regional's patients have been evacuated. They are working to repair some of the very extensive damage. Meanwhile search and rescue efforts continue, they are looking for survivors in the rubble of the many damaged houses. The damage extends east of downtown all the way to Watermelon Street, the heaviest on Lamar St. and Forsyth St.  

The Salvation Army unit from Bainbridge has arrived, and state agencies are coming to Americus, as well.

President Bush and Second District Congressman Sanford Bishop will tour the damaged area soon, and a detachment of National Guard troops will be in Sumter County by Saturday.

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