Two children are dead after a major winter storm system swept through Georgia and Tennessee with heavy winds, rain and snow that downed trees and crushed the victims in their homes.
In Georgia, a large tree fell onto a home in Decatur, bear Atlanta, early Monday after heavy rain saturated the soil in the area, DeKalb County Fire Rescue Capt. Jaeson Daniels said.
A 5-year-old boy was dead inside the home, and his mother barely survived, NBC affiliate WXIA of Atlanta reported. Relatives identified the child to WXIA as Zachariah Jackson.
“We have been receiving a lot of rain over the last week or so, and the ground is just soft, and with the high winds, it’s just a recipe for trees being downed,” Daniels told the station.
Later Monday morning, in Townsend, Tennessee — where heavy, wet snow had fallen overnight — a tree fell onto a home near an entrance to Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
The Blount County Sheriff’s Office said the tree killed a 7-year-old girl at a vacation rental property. Her name was not released pending an investigation, the sheriff’s office said.
NBC affiliate WBIR of Knoxville, Tennessee, reported that emergency responders received calls reporting downed trees and rock slides throughout the area, which got significant snow overnight Sunday into Monday.
As the first major winter storm of 2022 swept across the South and the Atlantic coast Monday morning, 29 million people were under winter storm warnings. It is expected to be the largest winter storm for the mid-Atlantic since 2019.
Up to a foot of snow was reported in parts of Washington, D.C., triggering major traffic and travel issues that delayed President Joe Biden as he returned to the White House from Delaware.
Tim Fitzsimons is a reporter for NBC News. he/him