Tornado kills 3 in Alabama
JACKSON COUNTY, AL — A tornado that tore through Alabama has killed three people and injured multiple others. It was one of several twisters to touch down as part of a powerful band of storms that passed through the state.
Early Wednesday morning, a tornado ripped through Jackson County, which is located in the northeastern tip of Alabama, and touched down shortly after midnight.
Jackson County Coroner Harry Laney told CNN that local officials and law enforcement have started to assess the damage done to homes and treat injured residents.
‘Everybody is just pulling together’
The National Weather Service also observed a tornado in neighboring DeKalb County that packed 40 mph winds.
“Everybody is just pulling together,” Huntsville Emergency Medical Services Inc. Director Don Webster told CNN affiliate WAAY. “It’s a team effort: People [are] out here trying to help their neighbors [even if] they don’t even know them, trying to work with them. It’s good to see our community come together at times like this.”
Across the state in Colbert County, home to the famed recording hotbed of Muscle Shoals, emergency responders had begun trying to determine how many homes were destroyed.
“We’ve had a community member lose their residence,” Colbert Heights Volunteer Fire Chief EJ Lindblom told CNN affiliate WAAY. “But nobody got seriously hurt and nobody has lost any life so we got that to be thankful for.”
Shelter from the storm
More than 50 miles southeast, approximately 70 people in Winston County were thankful to be alive after seeking refuge in a storm shelter. The storm shelter, installed three years ago, was built following a tornado outbreak in April 2011.
“My family, we left our house about four minutes before it got here,” Christopher Hood, a Helicon volunteer firefighter, told CNN affiliate WBMA. “…It was standing room, rubbing elbows only.”
Hood could heard the wind whistle scream over the top of the shelter as debris smacked the exterior of the structure, damaging cars outside.
“It was just like a drum on the inside. And it was loud, it was really loud,” Hood said.
The shelter survived. However, the adjacent Helicon Community Center, a brand new building that had just been completed, was destroyed.
Thousands without power in Alabama
Alabama Power has reported that approximately 3,500 customers are without power as a result of the strong band of storms overnight.
Of those customers, 3,300 are in Alabama’s western counties. The remainder of outages are scattered throughout the Birmingham metropolitan area, Alabama Power Media Relations Representative Michael Schneiderman told CNN.