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CNN Today

A Tale of Tornadoes: One Family Pick up the Pieces After Horrifying Night

Aired February 15, 2000 - 2:29 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: President Clinton is expected today to declare parts of south Georgia a federal disaster area after those tornadoes that left the area looking like a war zone. The priority today finding at least three people who still are unaccounted for.

CNN's Brian Cabell is in Camilla, Georgia, which was hit by two twisters back-to-back -- Brian.

BRIAN CABELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Natalie, good afternoon.

Folks here are still awaiting word that this area has been declared a disaster area. It certainly looks that way. Four counties hit by six tornadoes the other night.

In the meantime, though, folks are out, moving about rather slowly, I would say, trying to clean up and trying to salvage what they can.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

(voice-over): Two days after the tornadoes hit, Stephen Williams' (ph) smoke detector is still beeping, but almost everything else in his mobile home is demolished. He and his fiancee, Bette Gilbert (ph), search for anything salvageable. Not much. Her purse was a pleasant surprise. But they're thankful that she and her son escaped with their lives. She had actually been trapped underneath the house.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I could feel it when it overturned, and I was holding onto my son, asking God to save us. And then I guess it just exploded and it landed -- I was -- left shoulder and my hand was stuck in between it and I couldn't get out. And my son was screaming that he wasn't going to leave me. And then somehow the Lord gave him strength to get me from under there. We ran across real fast and found (OFF-MIKE) house. That's when I realized that my feet were wide open. It was bleeding.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When I got back home, I thought she was dead. I thought everybody out here was dead. Because all the trees (OFF- MIKE) the road. I never -- all the trees is down -- all the trees were down when I got here. When I seen her at the emergency room, it was like I saw Jesus Christ, you know. It's the kind of feeling I had, you know. It was beautiful when I saw her and my step-son, you know. It was beautiful.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CABELL: Ms. Gilbert was injured in the tornado. Mr. Williams, he's on disability so they're having a hard time and now they've lost their home, as have so many other people. You see them out here right now. Take a look at this scene and multiply it by a thousand or so and that's what you find here in southwest Georgia.

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

ALLEN: All right, Brian, thanks.

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