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North Carolina governor declares state of emergency

Tornado damage in Hall County, Georgia  

STONEVILLE, North Carolina (CNN) -- North Carolina Gov. Jim Hunt on Saturday declared a state of emergency in rural Rockingham County following a Friday tornado that killed two people.

Crews with search dogs combed through the rubble of Stoneville's downtown business district, and National Guard troops were called in to help with the clean-up.

Between 80 and 100 buildings were destroyed and as many as 600 were damaged, officials said.

"Everyone is accounted for, but just to make sure, emergency crews are going back through the damaged buildings and going door to door just to check," said North Carolina emergency operations center spokeswoman Lisa Schell.

A 24-year-old woman was killed and her mother injured when their car was thrown into the side of an auto shop and buried in debris.

A 79-year-old man was thrown from his home and found dead in a nearby field.

A dozen people were hospitalized, including one person who remained in critical condition Saturday, and 15 others suffered minor injuries.

The tornado was one of more than a half-dozen twisters that touched down across North Carolina and southern Virgina Friday afternoon.

Volunteers help Georgia victims

Meanwhile, volunteers poured into northeast Georgia's Hall County to help tornado victims there.

Hall County Emergency Mgmt. Director Elaine Sexton comments on the disaster
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"We have more volunteers right now than we know what to do with," said Elaine Sexton, director of the county's Emergency Management Agency. "I don't have a count on it, but I know the outpouring of caring and offers for help have been absolutely tremendous."

The Friday morning twister killed 11 people just north of Gainesville and caused at least $13.5 million in damage in Hall County alone, emergency workers said Saturday.

"This is a rough damage estimate. All of us feel it will go much higher," Sexton said.

Earlier reports of 14 dead were the result of duplicate counts by two hospitals, as well as one hospital adding the victim of a traffic accident unrelated to the storm.

A family in Georgia says their home may be gone -- but all the important things survived
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Forty-one houses and 21 mobile homes were destroyed and about 150 buildings were damaged, Sexton said, when the fast-moving tornado ripped a path 11.5 miles long and a football field wide in Hall County, about 50 miles northeast of Atlanta.

Five of the victims died in mobile homes near North Hall High School -- three of them from one family.

Federal official to tour area Sunday

Stunned residents worked in near-freezing temperatures to help clear debris. Public works, electric utility and road maintenance crews began work early Saturday morning as mental health workers prepared to counsel victims.

North Carolina damage
Stoneville, North Carolina, also was heavily damaged  

Two disaster relief centers were opened in Hall and White counties. The centers -- in Clermont and Cleveland -- are the first step in helping tornado victims put their lives back together.

Officials on Saturday disposed of more than 20,000 chickens killed when the tornado destroyed nine chicken houses. They were still working to discard 30 to 40 dead cattle because of concern about possible water contamination from decomposing animals.

The National Weather Service had not issued a tornado warning before the funnel cloud touched down.

Five counties were declared eligible for federal disaster relief, making low-interest loans and federal grants available for those who need to rebuild homes or businesses.

Federal Emergency Management Agency Director James Lee Witt was to tour the area Sunday.

The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this story


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