[Breaking news update, published at 11:46 a.m. ET]
A flash flood emergency is in place for areas downstream from Head’s Creek Reservoir in western Spalding County in central Georgia after a dam failed, the National Weather Service in Atlanta said.
Emergency Manager Jacob Trujillo told the weather service “the dam at Heads Creek Reservoir in Griffin has failed, downstream flooding expected and evacuations reportedly underway.”
The National Weather Service is telling people to move to higher ground immediately.
[Previous story, published at 11:39 a.m. ET]
A fresh round of violent storms is battering the Southeast on Monday after a spate of tornadoes and treacherous weather over the weekend killed 26 people in the South.
From Houston to South Carolina, more than 20 million people are at risk of severe storms Monday.
“Large hail, damaging wind gusts, and frequent lightning will remain the primary risks throughout the day today but isolated tornadoes could still be possible,” CNN Meteorologist Haley Brink said.
A severe thunderstorm watch has been issued for parts of Alabama, Georgia and South Carolina until 6 p.m. ET Monday, the National Weather Service office in Atlanta said.
There’s also a threat of dangerous flooding throughout the region.
“Due to the repeated rounds of heavy rainfall over the weekend and today, bouts of heavy rainfall could lead to instances of flash flooding across the Southeast,” Brink said.
Parts of the South repeatedly walloped by recent storms have seen 4 to 6 inches of rain over the last few days – and could get deluged with another 1 to 3 inches Monday.
Atlanta – which had already been pummeled by hail and up to 2 inches of rain overnight – could get another 2 inches of rain – leading to a risk of flooding.
The South has suffered an onslaught of destructive weather since the weekend. At least 10 confirmed tornadoes struck Mississippi, Alabama and Tennessee on Friday night, according to storm surveys by various weather service offices.
At least 25 people were killed in Mississippi – prompting President Joe Biden to approve a disaster declaration for parts of the state. Another storm victim was killed in Alabama.
In Rolling Fork, Mississippi – home to about 2,000 people – an especially violent tornado obliterated houses, businesses and city buildings.
“Homes have been totally demolished,” Rolling Fork Vice Mayor LaDonna Sias told CNN on Monday. She said her own home was also destroyed.
Sias and her husband survived by hiding in a closet just before the EF-4 tornado shredded their house.
“He pushed me in … his closet, and he was able to close the door,” Sias said. “And the minute he closed the door, the force … he was just constantly trying to hold the door so it wouldn’t come open. And you could literally hear the house ripping apart.”
Despite the loss of her own home, Sias said she’s focused on helping other residents – including those who have lost loved ones.
“The hardest part is having to witness someone that has lost a loved one and then having to talk to people that were residents here but have been displaced due to this disaster,” Sias said. “It’s hard. It’s overwhelming. And it’s heart-wrenching.”
Search and recovery efforts were still underway in Mississippi on Sunday as emergency personnel also worked to distribute critical resources, including bottled water, portable restrooms, batteries and fuel, the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency said.
Some Rolling Fork neighborhoods and businesses were so badly hit there was “not any immediate shelter anywhere” on Sunday, Sharkey County District 1 Supervisor Bill Newsom told CNN.
“Everyone is affected. Entire subdivisions and neighborhoods … some are just wiped away, they’re just not even there,” Newsom said.
“It looks like a battle zone.”
The vice mayor said she is the most concerned about finding support for the families who have lost loved ones and are facing “total devastation.”
“We need to make sure that those people that are displaced, that no longer have any type of structure – they need immediate housing. They need some kind of assistance,” Sias said.
Teams from the Federal Emergency Management Agency have been deployed to Mississippi, and the agency will work with state officials to find interim housing for those impacted, the Department of Homeland Security said.
Resident David Brown’s parents, Melissa and Lonnie Pierce, were both killed Friday when a tractor-trailer was picked up by the tornado and thrown on top of their home, CNN affiliate WAPT reported.
“Words can’t express how I’m feeling. I don’t know – broken,” Brown told WAPT.
Brown said his son could have been in the home if he had not picked him up before the storm.
His family spent the weekend sifting through the crushed home, searching for any salvageable reminder of his parents.
“Honestly, if I can find anything in the rubble,” he said, “it would mean more than anything.”
Another tornado destroyed dozens of homes Sunday in LaGrange, Georgia, Troup County Emergency Management Director Zachary Steele said.
And many as 100 homes were damaged in the western Georgia city.
Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp issued a state of emergency order to provide more state resources for affected communities’ recovery.