Residents of Fultondale, Alabama, were picking up the pieces Tuesday after a devastating tornado ripped through the town the night before, killing a teen huddled in his basement and leaving more than a dozen people trapped or hurt.
Several of the teen’s family members were critically injured when a tree fell on the home and caused the house to collapse. “They were doing what they were supposed to be doing,” Fultondale Police Chief D.P. Smith said.
The tornado left a swath of destruction Monday night across Fultondale, a Jefferson County city north of Birmingham.
The twister was reported in Fultondale around 10:30 p.m. Monday and unleashed extensive damage throughout the county, AccuWeather said. It toppled trees, smashed buildings and flipped cars and trucks, according to weather.com.
“It looks like a bomb went off,” Fultondale resident Sam Moerbe told AL.com.
‘This is historic snow’:Iowa could see up to 15 inches of snow as major winter storm blankets the Midwest
Fultondale Fire Chief Justin McKenzie said 17 people have been hospitalized and 11 others were treated on scene, WVTM-TV reported.
“There are still people trapped in their homes that we are trying to access at this time,” Fultondale Mayor Larry Holcomb told WIAT Tuesday morning.
Injuries range from minor to severe, said James Coker, the director of the Jefferson County Emergency Management Agency.
Other homes and buildings were damaged in the storm, including a Hampton Inn hotel, which sustained significant structural damage.
In images from the scene it looked as if the entire second floor of the motel was destroyed, weather.com said. Guests were taken by bus to another hotel.
A tweet from EMA said several schools would be closed Tuesday for both traditional and remote students, including Fultondale High, Center Point High and Clay-Chalkville High.
Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey tweeted Tuesday morning that “the people of Fultondale took a hard hit last night – I’m grieved over the loss of life, injuries, homes & damaged businesses. I offer my prayers & deepest sympathies & pledge the full support & resources our state has to offer.”
The National Weather Service said it will survey the damage to determine the tornado’s strength.
Luckily for cleanup efforts in Fultondale, mild and dry weather is expected for Tuesday and Wednesday, AccuWeather said.
However, the Storm Prediction Center warned that “a few strong to marginally severe thunderstorm gusts are possible today through tonight over parts of the Southeast, and a tornado cannot be ruled out.” Areas at greatest risk include southern Georgia and the Panhandle of Florida.
Contributing: The Associated Press