Sumter Regional Hospital hit by tornado

March 2, 2007

Americus -- Sumter Regional Hospital was also hit the tornado. The hospital treated many injuries but because of the storm damage was forced to evacuate patients to hospitals in Albany and then shut down.

We're told almost a hundred people were taken to Sumter Regional Hospital for care before it shut down. If you didn't know any better, you'd think this was anything but a hospital.

Toppled trees. Frantic families. And plenty of patients waiting for care.

"We're headed in to see what the damage looks like." Chris Chappell works in technology at Sumter Regional Hospital.

He voluntarily returned to his job, but it doesn't look like the place he clocks in for work every day. "I can't... I don't have words for it. I don't even know where I am."

Windows are out, there's water on the first floor, some places ankle deep. The other floors have severe damage to all the walls. There's wire hanging from the ceilings.

And in the midst of it all, medical staff try to respond to the needs of tornado victims. They couldn't handle the high demand.

"We've shipped patients to Phoebe Putney in Albany, to Palmyra in Albany. We've sent patients to Crisp Regional in Cordele, and sent patients to Flint River Hospital."

Then they closed down the storm stricken facility, deeming it unsafe to operate in.

"But daylight's going to bring God knows what because the medical area of this town is gone."

But the will to survive and heal a devastated community remains strong.

(Above: Cars tossed in a parking lot, and damage to the hospital)

The American Red Cross set up emergency centers at its shelter at First Baptist Church in Americus.

Medical staff are on standby to treat people in need of attention as rescue workers continue searching for those lost or trapped.