Storm damage reported across St. Clair, Talladega counties
by Staff reports
Mar 18, 2013 | 4435 views |  0 comments | 11 11 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Downed trees caused widespread damage as afternoon storms rolled through St. Clair and Talladega counties Monday afternoon.

Pell City Police Chief Greg Turley said there were widespread power outages in the city after an estimated 46 mph wind blew through the town.

He said an airport hanger door was blown in by the wind, damaging an airplane at the St. Clair County Airport.

Turley said to make matters worse, shortly after the storm rolled through Pell City, a tanker truck traveling along Interstate 20 was forced to make an emergency stop because of a ruptured fuel tank.

Turley said city police officers blocked off a wide area in front of Walmart while fire and rescue personnel, along with HAZMAT workers, attempted to channel and stop the fuel spill from the Moore Oil Company tanker truck.

Turley said the tanker truck from Birmingham was carrying about 2,500 gallons of fuel. He said the tanker truck parked at the Marathon service station. The fuel ran out of the ruptured tank down Vaughan Lane and eventually into a retention pond across from Home Depot.

Turley said the Alabama Department of Environmental Management and the St. Clair County Emergency Management Agency were called in to help access the environmental damage from the spill.

There were also storm-related damages reported from Pell City school officials.

Michael Barber, the assistant superintendent of Pell City schools, said no buses were damaged during the storm and all students were accounted for.

He said some students got home late because of road blockages, and bus drivers were forced to find alternate routes.

“Roads will probably be all cleared up by the morning,” Barber said.

He said Duran North Jr. High School sustained roof damage, and the roof on the press box inside the high school football stadium was also damaged.

“We’ll probably have to relocate some of the classes at Duran North in the morning,” Barber said.

He said school officials were still in the process of inspecting all the system’s buildings late Monday.

Mayor Rusty Jessup said there were several trees down and several roads blocked in Riverside.

“I think a small tornado may have touched down in the Smith Street/Woodward Street area,” he said. “Several trees were snapped off. There was damage to one residence and a couple cars where trees fell on them, and a lot of power lines down in that area, up on Holly’s Lane, one downed tree delayed traffic on Depot Street, and several trees were down on Center Star Road and Deer Trace Road. There were also reports of power lines down in Arrowhead Estates, but no injuries were reported.”

Dave Nanney, 527 Smith Street, Riverside, said the storm snapped a pine tree in his front yard, landing on a vehicle. Part of the tree landed on the front portion of the house.

“Fortunately, no one was injured,” Nanney said. “I was not here at the time the storm hit.”

Another tree was snapped by the strong wind and blocked Styrkey Street.

There were reports of pea-sized to golf-ball-sized hail on Depot Street, near Lock 4 Road.

At the home of Cody and Jackie Butler on Depot Street, hail of different sizes covered their son’s trampoline.

“We had a lot of power lines down, especially in the Margaret and Odenville areas,” said Patrice Kurzejeski, assistant director for the St. Clair County EMA. “A St. Clair County School System school bus was not hit, but was blocked by downed trees in the Odenville area.”

Kurzejeski said there were reports of downed trees in every part of the county, which caused most of the problems.

“Alabama 174 was blocked, then cleared in about 30 minutes to one hour,” she said.

Kurzejeski said Alabama Power Company reported 190,000 power outages across Alabama.

“They updated it to 20,000 without power in St. Clair County,” she said.

Argo mayor Paul Jennings said his city’s firefighters responded to help buses that were briefly trapped on Blackjack Road, and some trees also fell across U.S. 11.

“Nobody was hurt, and that was fortunate,” Jennings said. “Our power (at city hall) went out on the first gust of wind.”

Moody Police Chief Thomas Hunt said city personnel were dealing with “a lot of trees” down in the 1600 block of Park Avenue, and that trees were down on Acton Road, as well. He said power was out in a number of areas, but no injuries were reported.

St. Clair County Engineer Dan Dahlke said that Alabama 174 was blocked between Odenville and Cook Springs Road. There was another report of road blockage on 174 near Shanghai Road, between Odenville and Springville.

Springville Public Works Director Earl Peoples reported trees down, but said all reported problems were taken care of by 5 p.m.

“I’ve already sent my guys (in the public works department) home,” Peoples said. “So far, so good.”

Lincoln Mayor Bud Kitchin said there were trees down in yards, and possible damage to one residence.

“The streets are clear,” he said.

Monday’s evening’s storms did some serious damage in northern Talladega, but did not seem to have caused any injuries.

According to Talladega Police Chief Alan Watson, there were “three or four trees down on houses, and several roads blocked.” On Cedar Street, a power line had fallen across a chain-link fence. “Public Works is trying to get these cleared as soon as they can, but sometimes you have to wait on Alabama Power.” Cherry Street, Taylor’s Mill Road and Mountain View Road were all partially or completely blocked by downed trees. East Street South was down to one lane between Lancaster and Hawthorne.

The storm also damaged the new fence and knocked down one of the new lights at the municipal tennis courts, Watson said.

Munford town clerk Peggy Bussie said Monday that her office has received several calls regarding downed trees on Cedars Road, McElderry Road and Alverson Street.

A roof was blown off a residence on McElderry Road, and a tree fell onto a house facing Mitchell Street adjacent to Munford Town Hall.

Home staff writers Elsie Hodnett, David Atchison, Gary Hanner, Will Heath, Shane Dunaway and Chris Norwood contributed to this story.