2012-01-23 / World

Killer storms pound South, Midwest

BY JAY REEVES The Associated Press

CLAY, Ala.

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 today.

Jefferson County sheriff ’s spokesman Randy Christian said a 16- year- old boy was killed in Clay and an 82-yearold man died in the community of Oak Grove.

A storm system produced a possible tornado that moved across northern Jefferson County around 3: 30 a. m., causing damage in Oak Grove, Graysville, Fultondale, Centerpoint, 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.

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.

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.

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