At least six people were killed in Alabama Thursday during a tornado outbreak that devastated parts of the state, including the historic city of Selma.
The fatalities were reported in Autauga County, just northwest of Montgomery, and more deaths are possible, Sheriff David Hill told WSFA.
In Selma, the same violent storm system that ripped through the Southern US, spurred a massive tornado that touched down just after noon and caused “significant damages” to the city – destroying homes, flipping vehicles and downing trees.
Selma Mayor James Perkins said that no deaths have been confirmed in the city as responders assess the damage.
“People have been injured, but no fatalities,” Perkins said. “We have a lot of downed power lines. There is a lot of danger on the streets.”
It’s not clear how many in Selma were hurt.
City streets remained closed due to downed lines hours later and Perkins said the city plans to put a curfew in place.
The National Weather Service in Birmingham said the “large and extremely dangerous tornado” ripped through Selma, a city of about 18,000, around 12:19 p.m. central time.
Selma schools reported that all students who were in class when the tornado struck were not injured.
The weather service also issued a tornado emergency for several counties just north of the capital city of Montgomery as the violent storm system moved eastward and then into Georgia.
NWS Birmingham said it has “received a lot of devastating reports of damage,” across the area and warned there “will be many long days ahead,” as the extent of the damage is assessed and documented.
In one chilling video from Selma posted on social media in the wake of the storm, a person can be heard yelling, “I hear a baby crying” as they assess the damage outside of their home.
The woman who took the video, Krishun Moore, told CNN her house was “tore up,” but said nobody was hurt. Moore said she and her mother took shelter in their bathroom as their house shook.
Former state Sen. Hank Sanders said he has been told there is damage “all over Selma.”
“A tornado has definitely damaged Selma. In fact, it hit our house, but not head-on. It blew out windows in the bedroom and in the living room. It is raining through the roof in the kitchen,” Sanders told the Associated Press.
At the White House, press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre on Thursday addressed weather across the south, saying, “Our hearts and thoughts go out to the Selma community.”
Between 10 and 15 people were reportedly injured with non-life threatening injuries in Alabama’s Morgan County, county sheriff’s spokesman Mike Swafford told CNN.
Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey declared a state of emergency in six of the state’s counties after the storm: Autauga, Chambers, Coosa, Dallas, Elmore and Tallapoosa.
“I — along with my partners at the Alabama EMA — will continue monitoring to determine if an expanded state of emergency is needed,” she said.
Across the border in northern Georgia, a tornado reportedly touched down near Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta Airport, according to Atlanta News First.
Tornado warnings forced metro Atlanta schools to close early and cancel after-school activities.
Businesses in Griffin, a city of 23,000 40 miles south of Atlanta, sustained heavy damage from the storm, 11Alive reported. A Hobby Lobby store partially lost its roof, and at least one car was flipped in the parking lot of a nearby Walmart.
Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp also declared a state of emergency Thursday evening as cleanup efforts begin.
Over 100,000 people were without power in Georgia by 6 p.m. Thursday, according to Outages.us, and another 46,000 were experiencing outages in Alabama.
Multiple tornado warnings were issued Thursday in Alabama, Georgia Mississippi and Tennessee as the storm system moved through the region.
In Kentucky, the National Weather Service in Louisville confirmed that a tornado struck Mercer County and said crews were surveying damage in a number of other counties. Downed trees, power outages and other scattered damages were reported in the state.
With Post wires