Alabama, Georgia communities devastated by tornadoes survey damage
Tornadoes, hail and powerful thunderstorms ripped through the mid-South on Thursday night, killing at least five people and destroying hundreds of homes.
A Centreville, Alabama, family and their neighbors who had taken refuge in an underground storm pit were temporarily trapped after a fallen tree obstructed the shelter door, the Associated Press reported.
The city’s mayor, Mike Oakley, told ABC 33/40 news that airplanes at a local airport had been “torn apart like toys.”
The Weather Channel reported on Friday that a Florence, Alabama, police officer had been struck by lightning while putting out barricades on a roadway Thursday afternoon. A news release later said he was conscious and responsive.
Images and video footage posted online showed wrecked homes and overturned vehicles as the storms passed.
More than 25,000 Alabamians and 13,000 Georgians were still without power on Friday morning, according to power outage tracker PowerOutage.US.
Newnan Mayor Keith Brady announced that no fatalities were immediately reported as of Friday morning.
In Alabama, Calhoun County Sheriff Matthew Wade said five people had died after a twister passed through mostly rural areas.
Three of the five people killed were members of one family, according to Al.com.
“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.
Gov. Kay Ivey had issued an emergency declaration for 46 counties earlier in the day.
First lady Jill Biden notably postponed a Friday trip to Alabama due to the severe weather.
“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,” she tweeted Thursday.
The National Weather Service said multiple tornadoes had been formed from a “super cell” of storms that moved eastward.
Severe weather is forecast to continue through the weekend, with strong winds and rain moving into the mid-Atlantic and Northeast and a new round of strong to severe storms impacting Mississippi, the Tennessee Valley and the Ohio Valley.
Fox News’ Brie Stimson and The Associated Press contributed to this report.