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Sunday tornadoes confirmed in south Georgia, where worshippers took cover under church pews


ATLANTA — Three tornadoes in south Georgia were responsible for damage to homes, a small barn and a church where Sunday morning worshippers took cover under their pews, authorities said.

The first of the Sunday tornadoes was very brief, damaging a small barn building near Omega in Tift County, authorities said. The second, more powerful tornado struck a church near Brookfield.

"During their Sunday morning service, church members quickly took cover under their pews when the wind became loud and their heavy front door was torn apart," the weather service said in a report on the damage. "The main damage occurred when the steeple fell to the ground."

Brookfield Baptist Church Pastor Gary Cadwell said he was preaching to about 100 people when loud, heavy rain turned into what he described as the sound of a freight train.

"It started raining so hard you couldn't hear yourself preach," Cadwell told The Tifton Gazette.

The storm began shattering windows and blowing doors off the hinges as mothers tried to reach their children in the back of the church, the pastor said.

"It was like everything was being sucked away," he said.

No injuries were reported at the church.

Another tornado struck Sunday afternoon near Alma, where a mobile home rolled over onto its roof, trapping a man and his wife inside.

"The trailer actually rolled over and then collapsed on them," Bacon County Emergency Management Director Danny Turner told The Waycross Journal-Herald.

Assistant Fire Chief Scotty Boatright said he and Bacon County Deputy Andre Brinson, the first two on the scene, could faintly make out a voice from the inside the home. They began digging and moving debris to free the woman, who was pinned by the frame of the upside-down mobile home, the Waycross newspaper reported. She was critically injured and flown to a Savannah hospital, authorities said.

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