Several tornadoes hit Alabama, killing at least 5 - GulfToday

Several tornadoes hit Alabama, killing at least 5


Damage is seen to a home after a tornado touches down in Birmingham, Alabama. AP

Gulf Today Report

Several powerful tornadoes tore through northern Alabama on Thursday, killing at least five people, injuring dozens of others, toppling trees, demolishing homes and knocking out power to thousands, part of a broad swath of violent weather sweeping across the Deep South.

The five confirmed fatalities were in Ohatchee, a town of about 1,200 people in the northwestern corner of the state where a twister ripped apart homes and downed trees and power lines, according to the Calhoun County Emergency Management Agency.


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Pat Lindsey, a resident of the county's hard-hit town of Ohatchee, told The Associated Press that a neighbor of his was killed when a twister destroyed his mobile home. "He was good as gold,” Lindsey said.

Calhoun County Sheriff Matthew Wade said the twister cut a diagonal path across the county, striking mostly rural areas - something that likely kept the death toll from being higher.

Residents survey damage to homes after a tornado touches down south of Birmingham, Alabama. AP

"Tonight, five people lost their lives and for those families, it will never be the same,” Wade said at an evening briefing. "Our hearts, our thoughts and our prayers go to the families, and we are going to do our best to let them know we love them.”

Calhoun County coroner Pat Brown confirmed to the Gadsden Times newspaper that three of those killed were family members in a house that was hit. In addition, an adult male died in his mobile home, and a female adult died in another mobile home.

No more fatalities were expected, Brown said.

Farther west, vast areas of Shelby County near Birmingham were badly damaged. In the city of Pelham, James Dunaway said he initially ignored the tornado warning when it came over his phone. But it wasn’t long before he could hear the twister approaching, so he left the upstairs bedroom where he had been watching television and entered a hallway - just before the storm blew off the roof and sides of his house, completely exposing the bedroom. All three of his vehicles were undriveable.

"I’m very lucky to be alive,” the 75-year-old Vietnam War veteran told

A firefighter surveys damage to a house after a tornado touches down south of Birmingham, Alabama. AP

Pelham authorities posted video of large trees blocking roads and utility poles leaning menacingly over debris-littered streets. Firefighters outside a flattened home in the Eagle Point subdivision, also in Shelby County, said the family that lived there made it out alive before they arrived. Nearby homes were roofless or missing their second stories.

Shelby County Sheriff John Samaniego told the AP that some houses in the county "have been completely destroyed.”

As many as eight tornadoes might have hit the state on Thursday, De Block said. He said investigation teams will review eight suspected tornado tracks, and the final twister number will depend on if any of those tracks can be connected.

Search and rescue efforts were complicated by strong weather that continued to rake across the region. Radar "debris signatures” showed a tornado that formed in southwest Alabama traveled roughly 100 miles (161 kilometres) and stayed on the ground for about an hour and 20 minutes, De Block said.

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