Catastrophic damage after tornado struck overnight in Georgia

An overnight tornado caused catastrophic damage in a city near Atlanta after severe weather and multiple tornadoes swept through Georgia and Alabama, authorities said Friday.

Downtown Newnan was hit by what authorities said appeared to be a long-duration tornado causing EF-2 or higher levels of damage. That level brings wind speeds of 111 to 135 mph that can lift houses off their foundations, remove large sections of roofs, and demolish mobile homes, among other destructive results.

NBC News affiliate WXIA reported that the high school suffered what officials described as an “overwhelming” amount of damage. The school district canceled classes on Friday morning. Newnan is a city of nearly 40,000 people southwest of Atlanta.

In a tweet, Governor Kemp said would visit Coweta County, where Newnan is located, on Saturday to offer help and examine the storm’s damage.

One person died of a medical emergency in Coweta County, and medical workers were unable to reach the area due to severe weather, adding to five Alabama residents who were confirmed dead Thursday after the same series of storms and tornadoes hit that state.

The National Weather Service in Birmingham, Alabama, reported at noon Friday that two of the confirmed tornadoes that made landfall in the state were “at least“Force EF-2.

In a press release tweeted on Friday, the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office said two separate tornadoes had caused catastrophic damage in Ohatchee and Eagle Point.

The five Alabama deaths occurred in Calhoun County, whose coroner said four people died in Ohatchee: James William Geno, 72; Joe Wayne Harris, 74; Ebonique Harris, 38; and Barbara Harris, 69 – and one person, Emily Myra Wilborn, 72, died in Wellington.

NBC News affiliate WVTM reported preliminary data showing 19 tornadoes struck central Alabama on Thursday.

Just last week, severe weather hit Alabama and other parts of the South, causing more than two dozen tornadoes and damaging and destroying homes.

The storms that began March 17 produced 25 tornadoes in Alabama, according to a National Weather Service survey report. Three injuries were reported in the state.

Phil Helsel contributed.

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