Tornadoes tear through Southeast United States

The Associated Press

Tornadoes whipped through South Carolina and a Georgia town yesterday, overturning cars, ripping roofs off homes and a grocery store and injuring at least 36 people.

Two people were seriously injured in the twisters, which caused millions of dollars in damage. Georgia Gov. Zell Miller declared a state of emergency in the town of Albany.

The tornado there cut through the parking lot of a shopping center at mid-afternoon, tearing the roof off a Winn-Dixie grocery store and overturning more than a dozen cars.

A mass of broken glass, fallen insulation and overturned shopping carts were left in the front of the store.

''The lights started flickering...'' said Angie Spurlock, manager of The Crate, a nearby women's clothing store that sustained roof damage and a broken window. ''Then we heard a loud roar and the building started shaking.''

''The wind was blowing and we started seeing things trash flying across the parking lot,'' she said. ''We just dropped to the floor. It was all over in a matter of seconds.''

Two people were seriously injured and at least 30 were treated for minor injuries in the area, which was devastated by flooding in the summer of 1994.

Assistant city manager Janice Allen said the storm damaged about 150 homes and about 10 businesses. About 2,900 homes lost electric power, which was not expected to be restored until today.

City councilman David Williams said at least 40 businesses were damaged and estimated storm damage at $5 million to $10 million.

In South Carolina, as many as 4,500 customers lost power and four people suffered minor injuries as a line of tornadoes and storms swept across the state. The twisters damaged farms, homes, mobile homes and churches.

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