Severe Weather Leaves Widespread Damage in South; 150 Hide in Cave, Jacksonville State University Buildings Destroyed by Likely Tornado

Severe Weather Leaves Widespread Damage in South; Jacksonville State University Buildings Destroyed by Likely Tornado

Officials rushed to Jacksonville State University in Jacksonville, Alabama, after a likely tornado ripped apart buildings Monday night on the campus, which was mostly closed for Spring Break.

Several campus apartments had structural damage after the storm struck, and the roof at Pete Mathews Coliseum suffered “extensive” damage, according to a tweet from JSU Athletic Director Greg Seitz.

“The town looks pretty bad right now,” interim fire chief Keith Kadle told ABC News. “We took a direct hit to the university and to a big residential section of our city.”

Severe Weather Leaves Widespread Damage in South, 150 hide in cave

During a Tuesday morning news conference, Jacksonville Mayor Johnny Smith said the storm caused two injuries but no deaths. The city will be under a curfew starting at 7 p.m. local time Tuesday night, and the JSU campus will be off-limits to the public during the cleanup.

“I thought we were gone,” Richard Brasher, 60, who rode out the storm in a bathtub with his wife, daughter and two grandchildren, told the Associated Press. “It happened so fast.”

When aggressive storms ripped across the south this week, dozens of people found refuge in a nearby cave.

That’s according Atlanta’s CBS 46, which shared photos of a number of people in one of Georgia’s numerous caves. The television station reported that more than 150 people hid out in the cave in Cave Springs, Georgia, as a tornado headed toward the town.

Several areas around Metro Atlanta are beginning the cleanup effort after a strong line of severe weather ripped through the Southeast.

There are reports of heavy damage in the Buchanan area in Haralson County and crews are working to clear trees and debris from roadways.

Severe Weather Leaves Widespread Damage in South; 150 Hide in Cave, Jacksonville State University Buildings Destroyed by Likely Tornado

The storm also caused severe damage to the West Point Baptist Church in Jacksonville, which was largely destroyed Monday night. Pastor Ronny Moore stood alongside residents and surveyed the damage Tuesday morning, and he told that the church was preparing for a special service in May to honor the church’s 100th anniversary.

“The church is doing great. It’s very much alive,” Moore told WBRC, adding that nobody was inside the church when the storms hit. “This is not going to stop the church. We’ll regroup and rebuild.”

The Emergency Management Agency in Cullman, Alabama, roughly 55 minutes from Huntsville, reported damage to its facility, the local jail and a school, ABC 33/40 News reports.

“Our first priority is ensuring our people are safe,” said Gov. Kay Ivey in a statement Monday night. “Please stay out of affected areas and let first responders do their job.”

The storm also dropped large hailstones that were responsible for damaging hundreds of vehicles on the lot at Mitch Smith Chevrolet in Cullman.

Severe Weather Leaves Widespread Damage in South; 150 Hide in Cave, Jacksonville State University Buildings Destroyed by Likely Tornado

Photos shared by the Limestone County Sheriff’s Office showed homes left without roofs and garages after a possible twister passed through the city of Ardmore, Alabama. Downed power lines and trees also made roads impassable along the Tennessee border, according to the AP.

Officials told WRCB-TV that a family was able to escape after a reported tornado destroyed their Ardmore home.

A spotter reported a possible twister wrapped in rain in Russellville, Alabama, a city of 10,000 in the northeastern part of the state. A car reportedly rolled on a highway and minor damage and power flashes occurred.

Numerous school districts in northern Alabama will be closed Tuesday, the AP also said.

Storm Damages Homes Southwest of Atlanta
As the powerful storms marched eastward into Georgia, at least one neighborhood sustained major damage to multiple homes.

Residents in Fairburn, Georgia, hid in basements and bathtubs as a possible tornado damaged dozens of houses late Monday night. There were no life-threatening injuries in the city located about 20 miles southwest of downtown Atlanta, according to WSB-TV, but daylight revealed serious damage Tuesday morning.

“It was so scary,” Fairburn resident Ashley Andrews told WXIA-TV. “It busted every window, it trashed everything. Water damage, leaky ceilings, you name it. Everything is ruined, we have nothing.”

In eastern Georgia, structural damage was also reported in the Augusta area Tuesday morning following the overnight storms. A Textron E-Z-Go campus suffered damage to several of its buildings as the storms struck, and a few overnight employees were hospitalized with minor injuries, reported.

Schools in Haralson County were closed Tuesday because of widespread storm damage. More than 10,000 Georgia homes and businesses lost power because of the severe weather.

Crews from the National Weather Service will spread out across the region on Tuesday to survey the damage and determine how many tornadoes were in progress Monday night.

Mary Greeley News