'Pure destruction': Officials give preliminary tornado damage re - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

'Pure destruction': Officials give preliminary tornado damage reports in Albany

A tornado blew through Albany & Dougherty County Sunday afternoon. (Source: WALB) A tornado blew through Albany & Dougherty County Sunday afternoon. (Source: WALB)
Dougherty County EMA Director Ron Rowe briefed the media Sunday night on the tornado. (Source: WALB) Dougherty County EMA Director Ron Rowe briefed the media Sunday night on the tornado. (Source: WALB)
Commission Chairman Chris Cohilas stressed the importance of how officials will continue to respond. (Source: WALB) Commission Chairman Chris Cohilas stressed the importance of how officials will continue to respond. (Source: WALB)
ALBANY, GA (WALB) -

Dougherty County EMA Director Ron Rowe and Commission Chairman Chris Cohilas gave updates on the damage from three lines of storms that rolled through the area between Saturday morning and Sunday afternoon.

Rowe said they had a report of rotational wind Sunday afternoon that entered the area on the southwest side of Albany.

The storm went across the Albany Municipal Airport which sustained damage to the Georgia State Patrol hangar and the old maintenance hangar. The main terminal did not receive damage.

The tornado then headed to the east side of Albany.

The Marine Corps Logistics Base sustained damage as well, though the extent is unknown.

Tonight, Georgia State Patrol teams and GA Search & Rescue teams will go to Albany to go through devastated areas, attempting to locate and rescue people who might be trapped.

Rowe said they are in the preliminary stages of getting damage information. However, he did say that there is widespread destruction and the East Side has neighborhoods that are completely destroyed.

Emergency crews have been responding to affected areas by foot due to roads blocked by trees and structural debris.

Two fire stations were unable to respond after the storm because of the debris.

"There are no words to tell you how bad this is,” Rowe said. “It’s just tornadoes and pure destruction.”

They do not have a solid number of people injured or killed. The next several hours, if not more, will be focused on saving lives.

The county has set up phone lines for family members looking for loved ones to call. Those numbers are (229) 483-6201 or (229) 483-6203.

The Albany transit system is helping transport people out of effected areas. Those pickup locations are the U.S. Post Office on Mock Road, and the Harvey’s on Radium Springs Road.

Cohilas stressed the impact of this deadly storm hitting less than three weeks after straight-line winds blew through Albany on January 2.

Cohilas said the process to apply for FEMA funding from the January 2 storms is continuing. He has traveled to D.C. to try and get answers from area Congressman.

Officials said they will be working diligently overnight, and this will not be a short-term process.

"We're going to continue to work hard and work tirelessly whether we get additional help,” said Cohilas. "We are hurt right now, and we are strong. But, we need help."

Cohilas pointed out that Albany/Dougherty County sustained additional damage during a storm that hit the area in the early morning hours of Sunday.

He also urged people to use hashtags on social media so the extent of the damage can be seen not just in Georgia, but across the nation.

“We need citizens to continue to advocate for this community. Take to social media and use #HelpAlbany #AlbanyStrong,” said Cohilas. "We need to have one voice saying that we need help in Albany/Dougherty County."

Cohilas said that he walked on Holly Drive in Albany and called it “unfathomable,” saying a trailer park looks like it disintegrated.

If you’d like to donate, Cohilas and Rowe named two different ways to give monetary donations: unitedwayswga.org/help and sherwoodbaptist.net. Select “Albany Disaster Relief Fund” to donate.

The Albany Civic Center is now open as a shelter.

When going to shelters, you should bring meds, pillow, toiletries, blankets, and anything else you might need over a 72-hour period.

If you want to volunteer, you can call the Emergency Operations Center at the following numbers: (229) 483-6226; (229) 483-6227, and (229) 483-6228 and ask for the volunteer coordinator.

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