4 members of the same family among those killed in Alabama during tornado, officials say
There are more than 30 reports of tornadoes across the Southeast from Jan. 12, with some leaving devastating scenes like this one in Selma.
(CNN) -- Four members of the same family were among the seven people killed in Autauga County, Alabama, last week, the sheriff's office said, as a powerful tornado swept the area.
The four related victims lived in two homes on Sandy Ridge Road in Prattville, about 27 miles northwest of Montgomery, the Autauga County Sheriff's Office said in a news release Saturday: Robert Gardner Jr., 70, and Deanna Marie Corbin, 59, lived in one home while Christopher Allen Cobrin Jr., 46, and Tessa Celeste Desmet, 21, lived in the other, the release said. It did not specify how the victims were related.
Debris from a tornado that ripped through Central Alabama earlier this week along County Road 140 where loss of life occurred Saturday, Jan. 14, 2023, in White City, Autauga County, Ala.(AP Photo/Butch Dill)
The three others killed in Autauga County were Carmen Cox Autery, 59, who also lived on Sandy Ridge Road; Andrea Sue Taylor, 61; and Solomon Antiono Smith, 50, the release said.
While there were dozens of preliminary tornado reports across Alabama, Georgia and Kentucky, Autauga County was hit particularly hard. The wind intensity was rated at least an EF-3 by the National Weather Service, meaning it had gusts of at least 136 mph. Teams continued to survey damage in the area on Sunday, the National Weather Service office in Birmingham said, to determine whether the same tornado continued through Coosa and Tallapoosa counties.
"This powerful tornado ripped through Autauga County leaving behind great destruction of homes and property for many, many miles," the sheriff's office said. "Hundreds of homes in the areas of Old Kingston, Posey's Crossroads, White City and Marbury have been damaged or destroyed."
Autauga County was hard hit by powerful tornadoes that caused widespread devastation and multiple deaths throughout the Southeast, especially in Alabama in Pine Level AL, United States on January 14, 2023 (Photo by Peter Zay/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
At least nine people were killed in the spate of storms overall, with two others killed in Georgia, including a 5-year-old boy and a state Department of Transportation worker, identified in a memo to department employees as Sean Kornacki.
"He was tragically killed in the line of duty early this morning while responding to clear debris in the road following last night's storms," the memo from Commissioner Russell R. McMurry said.
President Joe Biden approved a major disaster declaration for the state of Alabama, the White House said in a news release early Sunday, ordering federal aid be made available to bolster recovery efforts.
The approval makes federal funding available to those impacted in Autauga and Dallas counties, the release said, adding assistance can go toward "grants for temporary housing and home repairs, low-cost loans to cover uninsured property losses, and other programs."
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