Inside their small mobile home bathroom, the family of four huddled together using their mattresses as shields. Then the Shoemaker family did the only thing that made sense. They prayed.

“All four of us were sitting in the bathroom and praying and the roof just lifted off and blew away,” Randy Shoemaker told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Monday, hours after a powerful storm system ripped through their community. “The Lord protected us. Even my kids were praying so I guess I’m doing something right.”

Their Murray County home was destroyed but the Shoemakers escaped unharmed along with Sadie May, the family’s dog. They are among the fortunate ones. Powerful storms, already blamed for dozens of deaths across the Southeast, barged into Georgia late Sunday. As of Monday evening, eight people were dead and 49 were injured.

Early Monday morning, April 13, 2020, several Georgia counties were hit by severe thunderstorms and tornadoes, claiming the lives of 8 people and destroying homes in its path.

By daybreak Monday, a sleepless night had given way to a dawn of heartbreak and grief. In metro Atlanta, trees landed on homes and cars and across roads. North Georgia was hit far harder.

“This is devastating,” said Patricia Brogdon as she took video of the damage with her cell phone. “This is where my grandbabies lived. It’s all gone.”

Brogdon, Kimberly Shoemaker’s mother, said the family lost everything and was searching for a new place to live Monday afternoon.

A total of 23 homes were destroyed, 59 other homes had minor damages and 248 other homes are waiting to be assessed, Gov. Brian Kemp said during a Monday afternoon briefing.

Early Monday, 177,000 Georgians were without electricity, including many in North Georgia, Kemp said. By 4 p.m., the number was down to 59,000.

RELATED: Tornado downs trees, power lines in metro Atlanta

In Murray County, seven people in four mobile homes were killed in the Ridgeview trailer park, including three from one home and two in another, Fire Chief Dewayne Bain said Monday afternoon. An additional 23 people were taken to various hospitals, where one person was in critical condition, Bain said.

Coroner Jason Gibson, a lifelong resident of Murray, said he’s never seen this type of devastation.

“We’ve had a few tornadoes but nothing severe,” he said. “Nothing with this many fatalities.”

In Bartow County, 34-year-old William McConnell was killed when a tree fell on his house on Fite Street, according to Coroner Joel Guyton. Monday afternoon, the National Weather Service confirmed an EF-1 tornado with winds up to 90 mph swept through the area.

April 13, 2020 Chatsworth: Gov. Brian Kemp departs after thanking first responders while touring the scene of a deadly tornado that killed at least 7 in Murray County on Monday, April 12, 2020, in Chatsworth.

Credit: Curtis Compton

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Credit: Curtis Compton

South of Atlanta in Upson County, a home was lifted from its foundation and moved more than 50 yards, landing in the middle of a road. No one was inside the residence when it was lifted from Yatesville Highway and landed intact on Trinity Road east of Thomaston, Upson County Sheriff Dan Kilgore said.

Further down Trinity Road, Connie Hawkins and her husband were inside their home around 2:40 a.m. Monday when they heard a roaring noise.

“The house lifted up off the foundation and dropped, and then lifted up and dropped again,” she said. “And then all of the sudden all the windows busted and it threw glass on me and my husband.”

The couple’s home was heavily damaged and a barn, golf cart and tractor were flattened.

Back in Murray County, Trent Baggett was filling up gas tanks Monday afternoon and preparing to cut down trees damaged by the overnight tornado. He lives in Ridgeview, the Chatsworth trailer park where seven residents were killed.

“It shook the whole trailer. It was horrible,” Baggett said as he filled up at the Mapco station on Ga. 225. “I’m glad my family was OK. We’re just praying for the people who weren’t.”

Ashley Bell’s power was still out by 2 p.m., but she felt lucky that her lost power and downed branches were the worst of her problems. She was picking up coffee from the gas station after watching her girlfriend attempt to make it on the grill.

A tornado damaged house sits on the side of Trinity Road in Thomaston, GA.  Monday, April 13, 2020.  STEVE SCHAEFER / SPECIAL TO THE AJC

Credit: Steve Schaefer

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Credit: Steve Schaefer

Bell and her girlfriend watched the tornado from their porch on Fuller’s Chapel Road, about 1½ miles away from the trailer park.

“It blew so hard the car was moving towards the house,” Bell said. “In the morning, I saw pictures of our street on the internet and I didn’t realize it was that bad until then.”

Georgia Hodge and her two sons walked down Ridgeview Lane on Monday afternoon, looking at the damage to their neighbors’ homes. Their home a few blocks over was spared damage, and they didn’t know anyone who had been killed or injured, Hodge said.

The tornado rolled through in seconds, Hodge said.

“I stood up and all of a sudden it sounded like there was a freight train running through my living room,” she said. “I barely had time to get from the couch to a safe place.”

April 13, 2020 Chatsworth: Justin Tallent (left) salvages photographs from the remains of his cousin’s trailer in the Deer Park trailer park while James Bailey mans a chain saw after a deadly tornado killed at least 7 in Murray County on Monday, April 12, 2020, in Chatsworth.   Curtis Compton

Credit: Curtis Compton

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Credit: Curtis Compton

As quickly as the twister came, it was gone. The neighborhood was quiet Monday afternoon except for the sounds of chainsaws cutting up fallen trees and a few cars rolling through.

By late Monday afternoon, everybody who had been reported missing after the storm had been accounted for, said Bain, the Murray County fire chief. Those left without homes could shelter in Bagley Middle School, about three miles from the area damaged, he said. At 5 p.m. there was no one inside the school yet.

When asked why there was not a storm shelter opened in advance despite the advance warning of possible tornadoes, Bain said he didn’t consider the county’s schools to be safe shelter in a tornado.

“If we had 50,60 people in a building and it got hit, I would feel terrible,” he said. “If you walk into any of these new schools that have been built lately, you’ll see they’re not safe as far as weather goes. They’re all glass and high ceilings. We don’t have any underground bowling alleys like in the 60s.”