One person has died after a tornado ripped through Alabama, collapsing buildings and trapping people inside their homes.
The National Weather Service (NWS) in Birmingham, Ala., said the severe storm impacted the Fultondale area of Jefferson County, causing “significant damage.
We will inspect the damage to determine the strength of the tornado,” the NWS wrote on Twitter.
Fultondale Police Chief D.P. Smith said a young man was killed when he was trapped in the basement of his home, according to AL.com.
“The family had taken shelter in the basement but it appears a tree fell on the home and caused the house to collapse.
Videos and pictures on social media captured some of the devastation.
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A Tornado Warning was issued just after 10:30 p.m on Monday.
The resulting storm knocked out power and produced debris that blocked roads in the area. A Hampton Inn, Comfort Inn, and Suites and a Chili’s restaurant were badly damaged.
“We do have possible fatalities, can not confirm the number yet. We still have search-and-rescue crews out working,” Fultondale Assistant Fire Chief Justin McKenzie said just after 3:30 a.m.
Fultondale Police Chief D.P. Smith said at least five people have been hospitalized. James Coker, the director of the Jefferson County Emergency Management Agency, said injuries from the storm ranged from minor to severe.
“Our current goal is always life safety,” Coker said. “That is not only for the people who may have been injured but also the first responders who assist them.”
Earlier, Fultondale Mayor Larry Holcomb said the city received about 20 reports of minor injuries.
“There are still people trapped in their homes that we are trying to access at this time,” Holcomb said.
Dave Moerbe, a pastor in Gardendale, and his son, Sam, 18, went to Fultondale when they heard of the devastation.
“It looks like a bomb went off,’’ said Sam, according to AL.com.
The Jefferson County Emergency Management Agency urged the public to avoid the Fultondale and Center Point areas to allow them to safely continue their operations.
On top of road dangers such as power lines and debris…traffic is clogging the roads. Once again, PLEASE stay out of the area,” the agency tweeted.
At least 11 school closings were announced for Tuesday following the storm, according to the agency.
A tornado watch has since been lifted in Jefferson County but nearby areas including Clanton and western Georgia are still being monitored.
“We will clear counties early as we can (once storms move past a particular county and the threat has ended),” the NWS wrote on Twitter.