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Breaking News

Gilliard: 'It Was Like a War Zone'

Aired February 14, 2000 - 8:56 a.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

LEON HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: Finally this hour, one more update on the tornadoes that raked across southern Georgia, we are joined now on the telephone by Ron Gilliard, who is the administrator at Mitchell County Hospital.

Can you give us an idea of exactly how things stand right now with you at the hospital, Mr. Gilliard?

RON GILLIARD, MITCHELL COUNTY HOSPITAL: Well, we have finally caught our breath. From the time the tornado started to about an hour ago, we've treated between 80 and 100 patients, and they are still coming in with the day break, the search-and-rescue teams are beginning to find additional patients. But we are small community rural hospital, and we have had a busy night. We have transferred the majority of the patients to larger medical centers close to us in Thomasville (ph), Georgia and Albany, Georgia, and Motra (ph), Georgia, and three patients to Tallahassee, Florida.

It has just been a tremendous wide range of injuries, of lacerations, and head injuries, and broken arms and legs, and internal injuries. And our staff responded tremendously and took care of the situation as best we could. It was like a war zone. It was just amazing.

We lost power, but our emergency generator immediately kicked in, and the whole community has responded to help us with transportation and those type things.

HARRIS: Well, considering that you didn't have any power to work with...

GILLIARD: Well, we had power. Our emergency generator immediately came on. We were never without emergency power.

HARRIS: Do you have room there at the hospital now for any more patients?

GILLIARD: Yes, we do. Again, we transferred the majority of these patients. Because of the seriousness of their injuries, they needed additional specialties that we don't have here in my hospital. We only admitted three, and again, we have transferred -- I've lost count, probably about 50 to larger facilities.

HARRIS: Do you have any information on any patient that may have died there at your hospital?

GILLIARD: No, I don't. We, fortunately, have had no deaths arrive or brought to the hospital, and none to expire after arriving here. But I do understand there's fatalities, but I am not the person to confirm that. And they are doing the search-and-rescue now, and it has, again, thank God slowed down slightly to the inflow to the hospital. We are expecting a second wave as they find people. I was in it, myself, so I know there is a lot of destruction out there, but I haven't seen it since day break.

HARRIS: Did you see the storm -- did you see anything...

GILLIARD: No, sir, I was in my home. I live in a home on our farm about three miles from town. And all I could see is we have pecan grove that I think every tree in it was uprooted. I had a member of my family that lived in a mobile home close to us that had been cut, and I had to bring him to the hospital. And that is when I walked into it, and then, after that, treated, like I said, between I don't know 80 and 100 patients here in my hospital.

HARRIS: With all that in mind, how tough is it to drive around?

GILLIARD: Well, I haven't been out since then, sir. I really don't know. But we have had other people come in from other cities to help us. So I think they have got the roads pretty well cleared. And last night, I live three miles from this hospital, and it took me about 45 minutes to get here.

HARRIS: Ron Gilliard of Mitchell County Hospital, we thank you very much, and we wish you luck. We know you have got lots of work to do today. Good luck.

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