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Small Towns Grieve After Tornadoes Across Georgia and Alabama

“I’m just going to take it one day at a time,” said Kevinta Turner, 43, who had not been able to sleep, his mind still clouded by the calls for help from people trapped in the rubble, including his uncle and a 13-year-old girl, both of whom survived.

Mr. Bowers’s family had gravitated toward the eight-acre property in Ohatchee, starting in 1986. Mr. Turner had come all the way from Los Angeles to join them. Before long, about 13 family members lived in the five mobile homes.

Mr. Bowers said his sister Barbara Harris, and her husband, Joe Harris, were the head of the family. They’re who people went to with their problems, and to solve disputes, he said. Now, both his sister and brother-in-law were dead, as was their daughter, Ebonique Harris, 38.

And, he said, he had to step up as a leader in the family.

“I’ve got to get these people where they need to be,” Mr. Bowers said of his relatives who survived. “I’ve got to get the others buried.”

In Newnan, a city of roughly 40,000 people southwest of Atlanta, a tornado raked through a swath of the city around midnight. The devastation became clear after sunrise on Friday: Massive old trees had uprooted and crashed through roofs, and yards and roads were a mess of roof tiles and scattered branches.

Yet amid the destruction, there were also emerging signs of a small city banding together, fitfully starting to mend what had been broken: People were walking the streets with chain saws and gas cans. Church members offered biscuits, water bottles and prayers. Neighbors were sawing through fallen limbs and carrying baskets as they collected belongings that had scattered from homes where residents surely will not be able to return for some time.

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