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CNN Today

Georgia Tornadoes: Community of Camilla Bears the Brunt of the Damage

Aired February 14, 2000 - 2:23 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: A string of powerful twisters ripped through the deep south destroying everything in their path. Daylight revealed mind-boggling devastation near the community of Camilla, Georgia. Entire neighborhoods were wiped out in an instant, and only now is the true magnitude of the destruction beginning to sink in. So far, at least 18 deaths have been confirmed.

CNN's Brian Cabell is in Camilla. He joins us now with the latest -- Brian.

BRIAN CABELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good afternoon, Natalie.

Well, the sun is out here in southwest Georgia. It is a warm winter's day. I'd say it's probably something like 70 degrees outside. But about 14 -- 14 1/2 hours ago, it was a living nightmare here in Camilla in southwest Georgia.

National Weather Service says between five and six tornadoes touched down here last night right around midnight. They say they marched through here one after one. They cut a five-mile-long path through Mitchell County, which is where Camilla is, destroying homes in its path, businesses, farms, snapping trees. The latest casualty toll: at least 100 injured. It could be considerably more. And, as you indicated, we are now confirming 18 dead and that could rise as well.

Amid all this rubble, we found a veterinary clinic and a veterinarian.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DR. NEWTON EUNICE, VETERINARIAN: We've lived in Camilla about 20 years. And we've been here since about 12:00 last night after we've talked with Butch Thaemes, my brother-in-law. And he told me that our clinic was gone. And he was out here in the rain. So we run up and got him from our house. And we've been here since then.

CABELL: What's the damage look like?

DR. EUNICE: Pretty much total destruction of the building. It's just totally destroyed.

CABELL: OK, you had a couple of animals inside. DR. EUNICE: Yes, we had one dog and one cat. Dog, some folks came and got it. Here's the cat.

CABELL: What's his name, do you know?

DR. EUNICE: Have no idea. It's a -- was a stray that a guy caught and brought in to get spayed. And he didn't even -- haven't even -- given it a name yet.

CABELL: How does the cat look?

DR. EUNICE: Looks fine. And we didn't hear a peep out of it all night. We could get to the edge of the back of the cages, and we kept tapping on him, trying to get him -- the dog or cat -- to respond to us. And we didn't hear anything. We thought they were dead until daylight, when we went in there. And Butch went in and tore into them and found out that they were all right. And, both of them are doing fine.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CABELL: Four counties hit last night in southwest Georgia. This is farming country, we have a lot of pecan farms, peanut farms, cotton, also some textile industry.

Georgia Power says 3,000 customers are still without power today. And they likely will be without power for quite some time because the entire distribution system, in some cases, has been destroyed. Number of survivors, of course, very happy just to be alive. We talked to one survivor who lost his father last night.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MICHAEL MOTE: It was like a bomb went off. It come upon us so quick. It was about 10 to 12 when the -- it seemed like the trees outside -- this used to be a pecan orchard. And the trees were spinning around and all of a sudden, it just seemed like everything just come down and just picked us up. And we flipped around inside the home we was living in, and that's what is left of it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CABELL: Destruction everywhere as you can see. There's one gentleman in a mobile home about a quarter mile from here who said he was sleeping last night when the tornado came through. The tornado literally picked up his home and delivered it about one quarter mile away. He emerged, he says, with only abrasions.

I'm Brian Cabell, CNN, live in Camilla, Georgia.

ALLEN: Incredible destruction, incredible survival stories as well from Georgia.

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