At least 18 people were killed as powerful storms ripped through the southern states of United States over the weekend. While the extreme weather conditions claimed 14 lives in south-central Georgia on Sunday, a tornado killed four people in southern Mississippi on Saturday, reported AFP.

The storm reduced houses to rubble, uprooted trees, snapped power lines and left people scurrying for shelter. The wind speed of the tornado was between 136 miles per hour and 165 mph. Apart from Georgia and Mississippi, Alabama and Florida were also hit. “This is absolutely devastating,” said Dougherty County commission chairperson Chris Cohilas.

The Emergency Management and Homeland Security Agency said they have put up shelters to accommodate the displaced residents. The Federal Emergency Management Agency, which has issued a high-risk threat, has sent liaison officers to Alabama, Florida, Georgia and Mississippi for rescue operations. Besides, additional teams are also on alert. This is the first high-risk alert issued since June 2014, reported CNN.

A state of emergency has been declared in Mississippi and seven south-central counties in Georgia. “I urge all Georgians to exercise caution and vigilance in order to remain safe and prevent further loss of life or injuries,” said Georgia Governor Nathan Deal, adding that the state would ask for federal help.