At least six people were killed in central Alabama amid a giant swirling storm system sweeping across the southern United States on Thursday as a tornado ripped roofs off homes and uprooted trees in Selma’s history, while another person was killed in Georgia, where gusty winds. I got out of power. to tens of thousands of people.
In Selma, brick buildings have collapsed, cars are parked flat and traffic jams abound in the city centre. Plumes of thick black smoke billowed over the city from a fire. It was not immediately known if the storm caused the fire.
The National Weather Service said the “large and extremely dangerous” tornado caused damage as it passed through the historic city.
Selma Mayor James Perkins said first responders are continuing to assess damage in his town.
“We have a lot of broken power lines. There is a lot of danger in the streets.
Blocks from the city’s iconic Edmund Pettus Bridge, an enduring symbol of the suffrage movement, the storm tore down buildings and trees blocked roads.
Selma, with a population of about 18,000, is located about 80 kilometers west of Alabama’s capital, Montgomery.
Footage from the Selma Times-Journal showed the exterior of a two-story building being ripped away by the storm. Huge pieces of insulation and metallic materials were wrapped around a tree trunk, and fallen tree branches surrounded a banner that read, “Welcome to Historic Selma.”
Northeast of Selma, Otoga County Emergency Management Director Ernie Paget told the Associated Press he could confirm six people were killed.
“It looked like there were two different houses they were in,” he said.
Malisha McVay and her family drove to the side of the hurricane. She says she was less than a mile from the house before turning sharply.
I caught a video of the giant tornado, turning black as it swept through house after house.
“It’s going to hit home and black smoke will come out,” McPhee said. “It was very terrifying.”
Selma was a flashpoint in the civil rights movement of the 1960s. Alabama state troopers violently attacked black suffrage advocates as they crossed the Edmund Pettus Bridge on March 7, 1965. Among those beaten by law enforcement was John Lewis, whose skull was fractured. He went on to a long and distinguished career as a member of the United States Congress.
More than 50,000 customers were without power in Alabama, according to PowerOutage.us, which tracks outages across the country.
In Georgia, a passenger died when a tree fell on a car in Jackson during the storm, Butts County Coroner Lacey Brough said. In the same county southeast of Atlanta, officials said the storm appeared to have derailed a freight train.
Officials in Griffin, south of Atlanta, told local news outlets that several people were trapped inside an apartment complex after falling trees. Firefighters also clipped a loose griffin man who had been stuck for hours under a fallen tree in his home. A high school was damaged and students at four middle schools were prevented from returning until parents took them away after authorities determined it was unsafe to operate buses.
The town of Griffin imposed a curfew from 10 p.m. Thursday until 6 a.m. Friday.
Nationwide as of Thursday evening, there were 33 separate tornado reports from the National Weather Service, with some tornado warnings in effect for Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina. However, the reports are yet to be confirmed and some of them may later be classified as wind damage after assessments are made in the coming days.
The weather service issued a tornado emergency for several counties just north of Montgomery as the storm system itself moved east.
“This is a life-threatening situation. Take shelter immediately,” the meteorological service said of the reported tornado.
Multiple tornado warnings were issued Thursday for Alabama, Mississippi and Tennessee as the storm system moved through the region.
In Kentucky, the National Weather Service in Louisville confirmed that an EF-1 tornado had struck Mercer County and said crews were monitoring damage in a handful of other counties.
There have been reports of fallen trees, power outages, and other scattered damage from the storms that ravaged the state.