Alabama hit again by tornadoes; 2 dead, 100 hurt
Monday, January 23, 2012
OAK GROVE, Ala. (AP) — Knowing this community’s history of tornadoes, Jhan Powers gets nervous anytime violent weather rolls in. While her house was spared this time, a tornado demolished nearby mobile homes — all of which were just a short drive from a path of destruction cut just last year by a deadly twister.
At least two tornadoes roared across the heart of Alabama on Monday, killing two people and injuring more than 100 others during the middle of the night. More than 200 homes were destroyed, the Red Cross said, and just as many houses were heavily damaged.
The storm awoke families, and many huddled together as winds howled outside. After the storms passed, rescue teams went door-to-door, calling out to residents.
The unincorporated community of Oak Grove was hit hard in April and again Monday, though officials said none of the same neighborhoods was struck twice.
“I would really like to never see another tornado again,” Powers said as neighbors sorted through the remnants of their home. “When you see this destruction, how can you not take it seriously?”
The area near Birmingham has a history of being a tornado alley going back decades. In April, about 20 people were killed in Jefferson County, most of them close to Oak Grove.
In a sign the state has become all too familiar with severe weather, officials had to reschedule a meeting Monday to receive a report on their response to the spring twisters.
As dawn broke, residents surveyed the damage and began cleaning up across several parts of central Alabama. The governor declared a state of emergency.
The storm system stretched from the Great Lakes to the Gulf of Mexico, producing hail, strong winds and rain.
The mayor of Maplesville, about 45 miles south of Birmingham, said a storm came through about 5 a.m., downing many trees and causing major damage to about five buildings.
More than 50 people were in the town’s dome-shaped storm shelter when the winds blew the top of a sweet gum tree, about one-foot in diameter, on to the steel building. No damage was done and no one was injured in the shelter, built about five years ago with a FEMA grant because of past tornadoes.
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