Fatalities Mount in Florida Storms, DeSantis Responds with State Emergency

Fatalities Mount in Florida Storms, DeSantis Responds with State Emergency

As a week of fatal extreme weather continued in the South, where uprooted trees smashed onto homes and knocked out electricity to thousands in many states, strong storms packing hurricane-force winds killed at least one lady in Florida on Friday.

Wind gusts above hurricane intensity, reaching 80 to 100 mph (128 to 161 kph), were reported in Florida’s capital city, Tallahassee city officials said. Social media images revealed some places littered with broken metal and other structural rubble.

Governor Ron DeSantis of Florida issued an executive order on Friday, establishing a state of emergency for 12 counties in the storm’s devastated northern region.

Half of the 200,000 residents of the city of Tallahassee were left without electricity, and workers were rushing to fix 100 damaged power poles, according to a statement on the official website. It stated that three possible tornado tracks were being evaluated by the National Weather Service.

“Our area experienced catastrophic wind damage,” Tallahassee Mayor John Dailey stated on X.

Customers may need to wait days for the restoration, crews have warned them in the dark. The restoration of power is expected to take the entire weekend, according to city officials.

The enormity of the damage has made restoration difficult, according to city spokesperson Alison Faris, who talked with The Tallahassee Democrat. This is because personnel are concentrating on repairing the transmission infrastructure before they can begin work on the distribution of power that powers homes and businesses.

“Transmission first and then we restore circuits which impacts distribution,” Faris stated. “All hands are on the transmission. We should start seeing some circuits repaired here shortly.”

More than 215 workers from 20 utilities in Florida, Alabama, Louisiana, Georgia, and South Carolina have come in waves to support teams doing electric system repairs.

A woman was murdered after a tree fell on her family’s house, according to a Facebook post made on Friday by the Leon County sheriff’s office, which covers Tallahassee.

The storm that hit Tallahassee early on Friday also damaged two apartment building chimneys at a complex where a line of automobiles was buried in fallen branches. At Florida State University’s baseball park, where classes were canceled on Friday, fencing was left bent.

In a social media post on Friday, DeSantis stated that the state’s Division of Emergency Management was collaborating with local authorities to “return life to normalcy for our residents as quickly as possible.”

The Florida woman’s death was at least the seventh weather-related fatality in the United States this week. One person was killed by a strong tornado that tore through a small Oklahoman town on Monday, while two individuals in Tennessee and one person in North Carolina were killed by storms on Wednesday.

Read Also: Time’s Ticking: Florida’s Ongoing Wait for the Next Hurricane Assault

The hurricane damage from earlier in the week was being cleaned up in other regions of the South.

Authorities said that a tornado on Thursday afternoon caused damage in the small farming village of Vidalia, Georgia, and the adjacent Toombs County. The tornado’s path was approximately 2 miles (3.2 kilometers) long.

According to Lynn Moore, the emergency management director for Toombs County, roughly 50 fallen trees that were obstructing roadways were removed by workers throughout the night after trees crashed through or onto the roofs of about ten residences.

As the storm moved through, Moore said, twelve car crashes were reported, but no injuries were reported anywhere in the county.

Severe weather has been a danger in 39 states since Monday. About 220 million people were at risk of severe weather on Wednesday and Thursday, according to Matthew Elliott, a forecaster with the Storm Prediction Center.

The current weather follows a tumultuous April during which there were 300 verified tornadoes in the United States, the second-highest number ever for the month and the highest since 2011. Tornadoes have devastated the Midwest and the Plains this spring.