clearn.png
Friday April 16th, 2021 7:28AM

Tornado outbreak strikes Alabama, Georgia; at least 5 dead

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

Blaring tornado sirens and howling winds roared across parts of western Georgia early Friday as severe storms pounded southern states, including in Alabama where at least five people died in twisters that wrecked homes, splintered trees and crumpled businesses.

Meteorologists said a large, dangerous tornado swept through metro Atlanta's Coweta County around midnight Friday, sparking a tornado emergency for the city of Newnan and surrounding communities. There were several reports downed trees and power lines.

Newnan police asked residents to “get off the roads” in a Facebook post, explaining that emergency officials were surveying the area.

Newnan Utilities said the storm knocked out its phone and internet services. Hours later, general manager Dennis McEntire said the phone lines returned. He urged residents to follow the utility on social media for any updates.

“It's still dark so it's hard to assess all of the damage but we believe we have 30 broken poles,” McEntire said. “We serve about 10,000 customers and about half are without electricity right now.”

McEntire said the damage from the storm was severe and it will “take several days, with the help from outside crews, to put the system together again.”

Newnan Mayor Keith Brady said no fatalities were immediately reported.

The strong storm followed a series of tornadoes that ripped through Alabama on Thursday, including one that authorities said traveled roughly 100 miles (160 kilometers) across the state.

In east Alabama, Calhoun County Sheriff Matthew Wade said five people died in a twister that cut a diagonal path across the county, striking mostly rural areas — something that likely kept the death toll from being higher.

“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,” Wade said at an evening briefing.

Multiple twisters sprang from a “super cell” of storms that later moved into Georgia, said John De Block, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Birmingham.

Several school districts were closed or delayed Friday due to the damage.

Vast areas of Shelby County near Birmingham — the state’s biggest city — were badly damaged.

In the city of Pelham, James Dunaway said he initially ignored the tornado warning when it came over his phone. But then he heard the twister approaching, 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. His bedroom was left fully exposed.

“I’m very lucky to be alive,” Dunaway, 75, told Al.com.

Firefighters outside a flattened home in the Eagle Point subdivision, also in Shelby County, said the family that lived there made it out alive. Nearby homes were roofless or missing their second stories.

Farther west in the city of Centreville, south of Tuscaloosa, Cindy Smitherman and her family and neighbors huddled in their underground storm pit as a twister passed over their home.

A tree fell on the shelter door, trapping the eight inside for about 20 minutes until someone came with a chain saw to help free them, said Smitherman, 62. The twister downed trees, overturned cars and destroyed a workshop on the property.

“I’m just glad we’re alive,” she said. “Praise the Lord.”

Centreville Mayor Mike Oakley told ABC 33/40 news that a local airport was hit. “We have airplanes torn apart like toys. We’ve got homes along here that are totally destroyed, trees down, power lines down. It’s pretty devastating.”

As many as eight tornadoes might have hit Alabama 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.

First lady Jill Biden postponed a trip to Birmingham and Jasper, Alabama, that she had planned for Friday because of the severe weather, her office said in a news release.

“Thinking of everyone in Alabama and all of those impacted by the severe weather across the South tonight. My prayers are with the grieving families. Please stay safe,” Biden tweeted late Thursday.

Earlier, Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey issued an emergency declaration for 46 counties, and officials opened shelters in and around Birmingham.

Other parts of the southern U.S. were also affected, with dangerous thunderstorms and flooding concerns for parts of Tennessee, Kentucky and the Carolinas.

In addition to deaths in Alabama, Mississippi had a storm-related death on Wednesday. Ester Jarrell, 62, died in that state’s Wilkinson County when a large tree toppled over onto her mobile home after heavy rain soaked the ground, an official told AP.

___

McGill reported from New Orleans. Associated Press writer Kim Chandler in Montgomery, photographer Butch Dill in Alabama, and Desiree Mathurin in Atlanta contributed to this report.

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP National News, AP Online National News, Top General short headlines, AP Online - Georgia News, AP Online Headlines - Georgia News
© Copyright 2021 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
EXPLAINER: Sanctioned Myanmar army businesses span spectrum
The two huge Myanmar military-controlled conglomerates targeted by U.S. and UK sanctions following the army coup last month span a wide spectrum of businesses
4:43AM ( 16 minutes ago )
Nissan-Renault rift at center of Japanese trial of American
The trial of former Nissan executive Greg Kelly in a Tokyo court is increasingly focusing on a rift between Nissan Motor Co. and its French alliance partner
4:30AM ( 29 minutes ago )
Belgium shows restored masterpiece but stolen panel rankles
The restored Ghent Altarpiece is going back on show at Saint Bavo's Cathedral in Ghent this weekend
4:11AM ( 48 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
At least 5 dead as series of tornadoes strike Deep South
Tornadoes hatched by early spring “super cell” storms have ripped a path of devastation across Alabama and into Georgia early Friday, leaving at least five people dead
2:03AM ( 2 hours ago )
Weather service: 8 tornadoes hit Alabama, killing at least 5
The National Weather Service says Alabama has been hit by as many as eight suspected tornadoes in a day of violent weather that left at least five people dead
12:26AM ( 4 hours ago )
Weather service: 7 tornadoes hit Alabama, killing at least 5
The National Weather Service says Alabama has been hit by as many as seven suspected tornadoes in a day of violent weather that left at least five people dead
11:39PM ( 5 hours ago )
AP Online - Georgia News
AP Online Headlines - Georgia News
EXPLAINER: Sanctioned Myanmar army businesses span spectrum
The two huge Myanmar military-controlled conglomerates targeted by U.S. and UK sanctions following the army coup last month span a wide spectrum of businesses
4:43AM ( 16 minutes ago )
Nissan-Renault rift at center of Japanese trial of American
The trial of former Nissan executive Greg Kelly in a Tokyo court is increasingly focusing on a rift between Nissan Motor Co. and its French alliance partner
4:30AM ( 29 minutes ago )
Belgium shows restored masterpiece but stolen panel rankles
The restored Ghent Altarpiece is going back on show at Saint Bavo's Cathedral in Ghent this weekend
4:11AM ( 48 minutes ago )
Asian stocks advance on optimism over pandemic recovery
Shares are higher across Asia after a strong gains on Wall Street driven by hopes for a powerful recovery from the pandemic
4:06AM ( 53 minutes ago )
Fuel tank attacked, catches fire in southern Saudi Arabia
A fuel tank at an oil facility in Saudi Arabia caught fire after being struck by a projectile in the latest such attack amid its yearslong war targeting rebels in Yemen
3:37AM ( 1 hour ago )