“I’ll only be taking it one day at a time,” said Kevinta Turner, 43, who couldn’t sleep. His mind was still clouded by cries for help from people trapped in the rubble, including his uncle and a 13-year-old girl, who both survived.

Mr. Bowers’ family had focused on the eight acre property in Ohatchee since 1986. Mr. Turner had come all the way from Los Angeles to join them. It wasn’t long before about 13 family members were living in the five mobile homes.

Mr. Bowers said his sister Barbara Harris and her husband Joe Harris are the head of the family. They are the ones people went to with their problems and to resolve disputes, he said. Now both his sister and brother-in-law were dead, as was their daughter Ebonique Harris, 38.

And he said he had to rise as head of the family.

“I have to get these people where they need to be,” Bowers said of his relatives who survived. “I have to leave the others buried.”

In Newnan, a city of around 40,000 southwest of Atlanta, a tornado raged through part of the city around midnight. The devastation became evident after sunrise on Friday: massive old trees had been uprooted and crashed through roofs, and courtyards and streets were a jumble of roof tiles and scattered branches.

But in the midst of the destruction, there were also signs of a small town that was banding together and restlessly began to repair what was broken: people walked the streets with chainsaws and gas cans. Church members offered cookies, water bottles, and prayers. The neighbors saw through fallen limbs and carried baskets as they gathered belongings scattered from houses where residents are certain to be unable to return for some time.