‘Dangerous’ tornado destroys buildings, uproots trees in Alabama – NBC Chicago

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A giant storm system swept through the South on Thursday, spawning tornadoes that tore through walls, toppled roofs and uprooted trees in Selma, Alabama, a city steeped in civil rights history.

Brick buildings were destroyed, cars were flattened and billboards were left in the center of the city. Thick black smoke rose over the city from the burning fire. It is not known whether the storm caused the fire.

Local Selma firefighters responded to a warehouse fire on JL Chestnut Avenue Thursday afternoon.

A “large and very dangerous tornado” caused damage as it swept through the historic city, the National Weather Service said.

There were no immediate reports of fatalities, but the weather service said it had confirmed reports of damage to trees and structures in Selma and damage in other counties. More than 50,000 customers are without power in Alabama, according to PowerOutage.us, which tracks national outages.

Former Sen. Hank Sanders said, “All of Selma was hurt.”

“Tornado damaged Selma. It actually hit our home, but not face to face. He broke the bedroom and living room windows. “It’s raining from the kitchen roof,” Sanders said.

Selma, a city of about 18,000 people, is located about 50 miles west of Alabama’s capital, Montgomery.

Selma was the high point of the civil rights movement. On March 7, 1965, Alabama state troopers brutally attacked pro-voting black protesters as they crossed the Edmund Pettus Bridge. Among those beaten by law enforcement officers was John Lewis, who suffered a fractured skull. He went on to a long and distinguished career as a member of the United States Congress.

Selma Mayor James Perkins told WSFA that at least one person was trapped in a building on Broad Street and another person may be missing. Several power lines are down and this is considered an emergency.

Selma Times-Journal photos show that the storm shredded the exterior of the two-story building. Large pieces of insulation and metal were wrapped around the tree trunk, and fallen tree limbs obscured the words WELCOME TO HISTORIC SELMA.

Malesha McVeigh rode the tornado with her family. She said he drove less than a mile from her home before suddenly turning around.

“We stopped and prayed. We followed him and prayed,” he said. “It’s 100% God’s doing that he shot me before he hit my house.”

He filmed the giant tornado that swept away the house.

“It hit the house and there was black smoke,” he said. “It was very scary.”

The weather service declared a state of emergency for several counties north of the capital Montgomery as the same storm system moved east. “This is a life-threatening situation. Take shelter immediately,” the weather service said of the reported tornado.

Several tornado warnings were issued Thursday for Alabama, Mississippi and Tennessee as the storm system moved through the region.

According to PowerOutage.us, more than 100,000 customers were without power in Georgia before sunset Thursday as a storm system made landfall south of Atlanta.

The storm hit Griffin, south of Atlanta, with winds damaging the commercial area, local media reported. A Hobby Lobby store partially lost its roof and at least one car was overturned in a nearby Walmart parking lot.

Damage was also reported in Douglas and Cobb counties west of downtown Atlanta, with the Cobb County government issuing a damage report showing the collapse of a cinder block wall at a suburban warehouse. Austell.

In Kentucky, the National Weather Service in Louisville confirmed an EF-1 tornado touched down in Mercer County and said crews were monitoring damage in several other counties. There were reports of downed trees, power outages and other scattered damage from the storm as it moved through the state.

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Associated Press writer Jeff Amy in Atlanta and photographer Butch Dill in Selma contributed to this report.

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