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Investigation, cleanup begin after night of storms in central Alabama

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Survey and cleanup is underway across central Alabama after a series of severe weather outbreaks swept through the state on Wednesday.

The National Weather Service is conducting surveys throughout affected counties to determine the true strength of the storms.

Gary Goggins, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Birmingham, said that much is still unknown about the storms.

“We are very early on in the preliminary stages of surveying,” Goggins said. “There is a potential that we could have at least 20 tornado tracks before all is said and done, and probably more than that, in central Alabama.”

As many as 12 counties were affected by the storms, according to Goggins.

As of Thursday, the National Weather Service has confirmed only two tornadoes. One was an EF1 that touched down in Hale County, and another was an EF2 in Chilton County.

“We were hit by several different weather impacts yesterday,” Goggins said. “It will go down as one of the more significant events in central Alabama history.”

The EF1 Tornado that moved through Hale County damaged at least 67 homes in its path, according to Russel Weeden, Director of the Hale County Emergency Management Agency.

Weeden said that crews are working to clean up debris, and restore power to Moundville residents.

“Today is a cleanup day, and I imagine that by tomorrow they should have everything all cleaned up,” Weeden said. “There’s a lot of power crews in Moundville trying to get the power restored, and there’s a lot of chainsaws going trying to get all these trees out of peoples yards.”

Weeden urged Hale County residents to stay clear of affected areas so that cleanup crews can continue their work.

“There’s a lot of moving parts today as far as debris trucks coming in and getting debris out. There’s a lot of onlookers that are clogging up the streets and preventing the debris trucks from getting in and out,” Weeden said.

The storm caused damage to two homes in Autauga County, near the town of Billinglsley.  

“We had a house that was damaged. It had multiple trees on top of it,” said Gary Weaver, deputy director of the Autauga County EMA.

Weaver said that members of the community were ready to assist with cleanup.

“The local community was really responsive and helped those people. There were at least 20-25 people in the community with equipment helping to get those trees out of the yard and make it safe. It was an amazing outpouring from the community,” he said.

Connor Todd is a news intern for Alabama Public Radio.
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