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Alabama crews search for survivors after EF-3 tornado demolished homes, killing 1 and injuring dozens

CNN's Chad Myers gives an update on the weather system tearing across the south eastern US, including a tornado that killed at least 1 person in Alabama.

Posted: Jan 26, 2021 9:44 AM
Updated: Jan 26, 2021 10:00 PM


What used to be homes are now mangled piles of debris, with personal belongings strewn across lawns and streets.

That's the new reality near Birmingham, Alabama, after a 'large and extremely dangerous' tornado late Monday night annihilated parts of Jefferson County.

The storm killed at least one person and injured dozens more, officials said. The twister also ripped a hotel apart and tore off part of a church's roof.

About 30 people in Fultondale were injured, the city's fire chief said Tuesday.

'Seventeen patients were tak(en) to the ER, with various injuries and some critical,' Fire Chief Justin McKenzie said. At least 11 people were treated on the scene.

A young man, possibly a teen, was killed when he was trapped in the basement of his home, Fultondale Police Chief D.P. Smith said, according to AL.com.

Several of his family members were critically injured, Smith said.

The family had taken shelter in the basement, but apparently a tree fell on the house and caused the home to collapse.

'They were doing what they were supposed to be doing,' the police chief said, according to AL.com.

Jefferson County Schools Superintendent Walter Gonsoulin said a ninth-grade student at Fultondale High School was killed in the tornado. He was 14.

'Out of respect for the family, we don't want to release too much information at this particular time,' Gonsoulin said.

The superintendent said the storm caused significant damage to Fultondale High School, forcing it to close for the rest of the school year.

The tornado that struck Fultondale was an EF-3 with peak winds estimated at 150 mph, according to the National Weather Service. It was 500 yards across and traveled 9.5 miles.

Six people trapped in their homes were rescued Tuesday morning, McKenzie said.

Rescue teams are still sifting through a hotel that collapsed overnight after most primary structures were cleared out, the fire chief said.

The tornado spawned from a line of storms among two large systems that have put more than 100 million people under winter weather alerts.

Tornado warnings and watches have expired in parts of Alabama and Georgia. But the same storm system is now expected to dump snow in states farther north.

'All of a sudden, the windows blew out in my room'

Parts of the Hampton Inn in Fultondale were obliterated, video from CNN affiliate WVTM shows.

Hotel guest Richard Ring was watching TV when rumblings from the storm drowned out the program's sound, he told WVTM.

He went to the bathroom and crawled under the sink.

'All of a sudden, the windows blew out in my room,' Ring said. 'The lights went out. And the sirens shrieked. And it was just surreal.'

Guests staying at the hotel escaped and sought shelter in a nearby restaurant when another line of storms came through, WVTM reported.

About 9,000 people live in Fultondale, just north of Birmingham.

'We will have a long day ahead'

At 10:54 p.m. local time Monday, the National Weather Service Birmingham 'confirmed large and extremely dangerous tornado was located over Chalkville, or near Trussville, moving east at 50 mph.'

Early Tuesday morning, the NWS Birmingham tweeted it 'will inspect the damage to determine the strength of the tornado' that impacted the Fultondale area.

The city of Center Point, about 13 miles northeast of Birmingham, also saw 'quite a bit of damage' from the storm, Mayor Bobby Scott told CNN affiliate WBRC. About 16,000 people live there.

The back half of Hilldale Baptist Church's roof is missing, and the city's recreation center also suffered damage, Scott said.

'Looks like we will have a long day ahead,' Scott said. 'Hopefully we can get everything covered up.'

There was a bit of good news, the mayor said: 'We don't have any injuries to report right now, so we're definitely grateful for that.'

The Jefferson County Emergency Management Agency urged people to stay out of the area as first responders try to reach the most damaged sites.

'On top of road dangers such as power lines and debris ... traffic is clogging the roads,' the agency tweeted.

Eleven schools in the area will be closed for in-person and virtual learning Tuesday following the storm, the Jefferson County EMA tweeted.

Storm system expected to dump snow in other states

A tornado warning was issued Monday night for Jefferson County, Alabama, NWS Birmingham tweeted. The agency later issued tornado warnings and watches for several counties as the line of storms moved northeast through the state.

The storm system is now expected to dump significant snow from the Central Plains to the mid-Atlantic Coast through Tuesday night.

The deepest snow will pile up across Iowa. Some snow will be very heavy, with rates of up to 2 inches an hour, the Weather Prediction Center said.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 295295

Reported Deaths: 6724
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto19672230
Hinds18799386
Harrison16710278
Rankin12685264
Jackson12592226
Lee9687160
Madison9457199
Jones7962146
Forrest7208136
Lauderdale6833226
Lowndes6022137
Lamar588080
Lafayette5733113
Washington5218130
Bolivar4609123
Oktibbeha441393
Panola430394
Pearl River4167130
Warren4129114
Pontotoc408869
Marshall403192
Monroe3989126
Union395374
Neshoba3807168
Lincoln3541102
Hancock347374
Leflore3375118
Sunflower318386
Tate302474
Pike300195
Scott293870
Alcorn291861
Itawamba289975
Yazoo289262
Tippah278765
Copiah277857
Coahoma277568
Simpson274878
Prentiss269758
Wayne253841
Marion252678
Leake252471
Covington248879
Grenada247377
Adams234377
George231745
Newton229652
Winston221675
Jasper213445
Tishomingo212365
Attala206569
Chickasaw201151
Holmes182270
Clay179150
Stone172429
Tallahatchie170539
Clarke169371
Calhoun157828
Smith152731
Yalobusha144836
Greene127633
Walthall124140
Noxubee122829
Montgomery122438
Perry121634
Lawrence120321
Carroll118225
Amite111533
Webster110630
Jefferson Davis101731
Tunica99023
Claiborne98429
Benton93324
Humphreys92827
Kemper90223
Quitman77114
Franklin76119
Choctaw69516
Jefferson62527
Wilkinson62426
Sharkey48817
Issaquena1676
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 493769

Reported Deaths: 9931
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson710731374
Mobile36139727
Madison32425455
Tuscaloosa24184410
Montgomery22586500
Shelby21968215
Baldwin19758283
Lee14967153
Morgan13667251
Calhoun13300286
Etowah13184319
Marshall11262209
Houston10104261
Elmore9385185
Limestone9363134
Cullman8897181
St. Clair8827223
Lauderdale8607211
DeKalb8459175
Talladega7523163
Walker6524255
Jackson6495102
Autauga627091
Blount6102127
Colbert6004118
Coffee5249102
Dale4642107
Russell404930
Franklin399177
Covington3960106
Chilton3876100
Escambia377672
Tallapoosa3588142
Clarke343650
Chambers3413110
Dallas3403141
Pike293472
Lawrence283484
Marion281995
Winston246867
Bibb245060
Geneva239970
Marengo236455
Pickens224654
Barbour211651
Hale210568
Fayette200756
Butler196866
Henry182441
Cherokee177038
Monroe166139
Randolph163740
Washington156535
Crenshaw144854
Clay144454
Macon142043
Cleburne137839
Lamar132833
Lowndes131151
Wilcox121825
Bullock116936
Conecuh106724
Perry105627
Sumter98531
Coosa88923
Greene88232
Choctaw55123
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