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Severe storms and tornadoes hit the South, killing at least 6 and leaving heavy destruction

Strong storms and tornadoes whipped across parts of the South on Thursday evening and Friday morning, killing at least five people in Alabama and one in Geor...

Posted: Mar 26, 2021 9:04 AM
Updated: Mar 26, 2021 12:00 PM

Strong storms and tornadoes whipped across parts of the South on Thursday evening and Friday morning, killing at least five people in Alabama and one in Georgia, and leaving some communities in ruins.

In Alabama and Georgia especially, tornadoes are believed to have caused devastating scenes evident Friday: homes and businesses ripped apart, and streets and yards littered with mangled debris.

One of the last tornadoes struck the western Georgia city of Newnan early Friday, the weather service said, tearing roofs and mangling trees and utility poles just after midnight.

Firefighters were going door to door in the city of about 40,000 people southwest of Atlanta on Friday morning, and helped several people from their homes after trees fell on the structures, a CNN crew there reported.

The storms killed at least one person in Newnan's Coweta County, Fire Chief Deron Patrick Wilson said. Branches, metal and other items were strewn across Newnan's roads and fields.

'This stuff is unbelievable. I kind of think about this kind of stuff when you look out in the Midwest, Oklahoma. I think you're going to see that same kind of damage here,' Wilson said.

Sirens in Newnan gave people about 15 to 20 minutes of warning before the tornado hit, residents told CNN.

On Thursday evening, at least five deaths and multiple injuries were reported in Calhoun County, Alabama, after a tornado passed through, Sheriff Matthew Wade told CNN.

The town of Pelham, Alabama, saw damage to about 60 homes, Fire Chief Michael Reid said.

'We're also very grateful that of all the damage done, nobody was hurt,' Pelham City Manager Gretchen DiFante said. 'We're very thankful for that this evening.'

In all, 23 tornado reports formed -- one in Mississippi; 17 in Alabama; and five in Georgia, the weather service said. Teams from the weather service will inspect the areas to confirm which were hit by tornadoes.

About 38,000 homes and businesses were without power in Alabama and Georgia on Friday morning, according to utility tracker PowerOutage.us.

To the north, thousands more customers were without electricity -- including more than 135,000 homes and businesses in Ohio -- after strong winds from the same system hit several states.

At least 5 dead in Alabama

In Alabama's Calhoun County east of Birmingham, five people were killed in severe storms early Thursday evening, authorities said.

That includes four adults -- three from the same family, and a man elsewhere in a mobile home -- in the town of Ohatchee, Calhoun County Coroner Pat Brown said. A tornado is believed to have hit the town, leaving 'substantial damage to properties and homes,' the weather service said.

The fifth person to die was a woman in Wellington, about 10 miles east of Ohatchee, the coroner said.

In the Alabama city of Pelham, in Shelby County just south of Birmingham, Cesar Villaseñor, 22, was in a van with his boss when they were caught in severe weather.

They were trying to get to shelter at his boss's house, Villaseñor said, around the time a tornado or tornadoes were reported in the area.

'We were literally half a mile from his house and everything was all clear. Out of nowhere, it starts raining and I started recording -- everything starts going to hell basically.' In a video Villaseñor shared, debris is seen flying through the air, uprooted trees lie on the ground and houses are damaged.

'I was like, this is probably it. I'm probably dead,' he said. 'At one point, the van was shaking really bad to the point that I thought it was like to flip over. I was just shaking. I couldn't control my hands.'

Alex McNair, owner of Corefit Strong in Pelham, told CNN his gym was practically destroyed by a tornado.

'The roof was lifted off, bricks were thrown through the windows of our garage doors, debris tossed inside the gym, our HVAC unit was ripped off our roof, glass thrown throughout the gym, our flooring is destroyed, along with other roof and structural damage to other parts of the building,' McNair wrote to CNN.

No one was hurt there, he said.

Home blown off foundation

Elsewhere in Shelby County, near Columbiana, at least one home and other structures were ripped from their foundations Thursday -- hit by what's believed to have been a tornado -- and deposited dozens of feet from where they'd been, a CNN crew that visited the scenes reported.

Two people were taken to a hospital with injuries, officials said.

Residents were rummaging through the ruins with flashlights in the dark overnight, hoping to salvage some of their possessions. Broken furniture and a red tractor lay piled in a heap.

In the same area, fences at an animal rescue center were blown away, leaving many animals wandering. The center cared for more than 50 horses and several dozen goats and sheep. People were trying to corral the animals overnight.

Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated the number of states where tornadoes were reported Thursday into Friday. It was three.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 308737

Reported Deaths: 7139
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto20931250
Hinds19961410
Harrison17562303
Rankin13369277
Jackson13156243
Madison9950212
Lee9890170
Jones8310161
Forrest7542148
Lauderdale7221237
Lowndes6289144
Lamar613384
Lafayette6072117
Washington5291133
Bolivar4776129
Oktibbeha457197
Panola4458103
Pearl River4437141
Warren4299119
Marshall4286102
Pontotoc417572
Monroe4062132
Union404675
Neshoba4005176
Lincoln3886109
Hancock373385
Leflore3471124
Sunflower331589
Tate325384
Pike3215105
Scott311472
Yazoo305069
Alcorn299465
Itawamba297877
Copiah293965
Coahoma290479
Simpson289586
Tippah285168
Prentiss276659
Marion266279
Leake261773
Wayne261541
Grenada256484
Covington255280
Adams246982
Newton245761
George238547
Winston226081
Tishomingo222567
Jasper220048
Attala213673
Chickasaw205457
Holmes187172
Clay183254
Stone179733
Clarke177776
Tallahatchie176140
Calhoun165431
Yalobusha160136
Smith159334
Walthall131043
Greene129633
Lawrence126623
Noxubee126534
Montgomery125742
Perry125238
Carroll120926
Amite120741
Webster113832
Jefferson Davis105532
Tunica103225
Claiborne101330
Benton97525
Kemper95628
Humphreys94632
Franklin82923
Quitman78916
Choctaw73917
Wilkinson65128
Jefferson64828
Sharkey49817
Issaquena1686
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 521623

Reported Deaths: 10739
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson754061493
Mobile39067799
Madison34040496
Tuscaloosa25367444
Montgomery24019567
Shelby23186239
Baldwin20701302
Lee15589165
Calhoun14342311
Morgan14158271
Etowah13685346
Marshall11995220
Houston10404278
Elmore10011200
Limestone9852147
Cullman9503189
St. Clair9463234
Lauderdale9265228
DeKalb8757181
Talladega8115171
Walker7139275
Jackson6756110
Autauga6750103
Blount6519134
Colbert6229130
Coffee5424113
Dale4772111
Russell430038
Franklin420782
Chilton4101109
Covington4061114
Tallapoosa3907146
Escambia390174
Dallas3525149
Chambers3514122
Clarke347060
Marion3072100
Pike306176
Lawrence295995
Winston273172
Bibb256059
Marengo248361
Geneva246075
Pickens233259
Barbour226455
Hale218575
Butler212967
Fayette209460
Henry188044
Cherokee182644
Randolph177241
Monroe172540
Washington165238
Macon155648
Clay150155
Crenshaw149457
Cleburne146741
Lamar139734
Lowndes136553
Wilcox124427
Bullock121640
Conecuh109428
Perry107626
Sumter103232
Coosa99428
Greene91434
Choctaw58824
Out of AL00
Unassigned00
Tupelo
Clear
55° wxIcon
Hi: 68° Lo: 54°
Feels Like: 55°
Columbus
Clear
57° wxIcon
Hi: 69° Lo: 56°
Feels Like: 57°
Oxford
Clear
50° wxIcon
Hi: 64° Lo: 50°
Feels Like: 50°
Starkville
Clear
52° wxIcon
Hi: 68° Lo: 54°
Feels Like: 52°
Some spotty showers will move through our area this morning but should clear out by the afternoon. We should see some breaks in the clouds and temperatures reaching the mid to upper 60s.
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