Posted: Jan 23, 2012 8:08 AM by Paul Kavanaugh
CLAY, Ala. (AP) -- Two people were killed in the Birmingham, Ala., area as storms pounded the South and Midwest, prompting tornado warnings in a handful of states early Monday.
At least one of the areas affected by the storms, which were part of a system that stretched from the Great Lakes down to the Gulf of Mexico, was also hit by a line of killer storms that slammed the Southeast last April.
Jefferson County sheriff's spokesman Randy Christian said a 16-year-old boy was killed in Clay and an 82-year-old man died in the community of Oak Grove.
The storm produced a possible tornado that moved across northern Jefferson County around 3:30 a.m., causing damage in Oak Grove, Graysville, Fultondale, Center Point, Clay and Trussville, Christian said. He said several homes were destroyed and numerous injuries were reported.
"Some roads are impassable, there are a number of county roads where you have either debris down, trees down, damage from homes," said Yasamie Richardson, a spokeswoman for the Alabama Emergency Management Agency. Jefferson County experienced "significant damage," she said.
Oak Grove was also hit during last April's tornadoes, but none of homes hit in April were hit again this time, said Allen Kniphfer of Jefferson County's Emergency Management Agency.
As day broke, rescue crews used chainsaws to clear fallen trees off roads in Clay, northeast of Birmingham. Searchers went door-to-door calling out to residents, many of whom were trapped by trees that crisscrossed their driveways.
Stevie Sanders woke up around 3:30 a.m. and realized bad weather was on the way. She, her parents and sister hid in the laundry room of their brick home as the wind howled and trees started cracking outside.
"You could feel the walls shaking and you could hear a loud crash. After that it got quiet, and the tree had fallen through my sister's roof," said Sanders, 26.
The family was OK, and her father, Greg Sanders, spent the next hours raking his roof and pulling away pieces of broken lumber.
"It could have been so much worse," he said. "It's like they say, we were just blessed."
In Clanton, about 50 miles south of Birmingham, rescuers were responding to reports of a trailer turned over with people trapped, City Clerk Debbie Orange said.
Also south of Birmingham, Maplesville town clerk Sheila Haigler said high winds damaged many buildings and knocked down several trees. One tree fell on a storm shelter, but no one was injured, Haigler said. One person was trapped in a heavily damaged home, but was rescued safely. Haigler said police had not been able to search some areas because trees and power lines were blocking roads.
In Arkansas, there were possible tornadoes in Arkansas, Dallas, Lonoke, Prairie and Cleveland counties Sunday night. The storms also brought hail and strong winds as they moved through parts of Arkansas, Tennessee, Illinois and Mississippi.
Tornado warnings were issued for parts of Tennessee, Mississippi and Alabama.
The storm also caused officials to reschedule a planned Monday meeting in Montgomery to receive a study on Alabama's response to a system of storms that raked the state last April. That storm killed more than 240 people in the state. Among the hardest hit areas then was Tuscaloosa, where 50 were killed.