WHNT NEWS 19 Team Coverage
10:58 a.m. CDT, April 28, 2011
TENNESSEE VALLEY, AL—
The death toll is staggering, and it keeps rising. Currently, more than 60 people are confirmed dead from multiple tornadoes that hit north Alabama on Wednesday in several rounds of severe storms. In the southern states, more than 230 are dead altogether.
Search and rescue efforts continue in many areas, including Madison, DeKalb and Franklin counties. Crews are trying desperately to find people who are alive but may be trapped beneath debris.
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We've outlined the situation in north Alabama below and will continue to update it.
Thursday morning, we confirmed with the DeKalb County Sheriff's Office that 30 people have died there. Twenty-eight bodies were found last night, and two more were found Thursday morning.
One of the hardest-hit areas is Rainsville. There is large structural damage to some of the safer buildings, including the Coliseum and Plainview High School.
There are also deaths and significant damage reported in the High Point community.
WHNT NEWS 19 has a crew headed to DeKalb County to get more specific information.
Eight people are confirmed dead in Madison County. Six deaths were in the Harvest area. There is still an active search and recovery effort to find more people who are missing.
Sheriff Blake Dorning urges people to stay away from the tornado-damaged areas unless it is a severe medical emergency. If it is not, you will NOT be allowed back in until the search and recovery process is complete, and even then, you will have to show proper identification.
There is a dusk-to-dawn curfew in effect for all of Madison County. This is a life safety issue, said Sheriff Dorning. With no power, there are no traffic lights, no street lights -- it is absolutely dark and you are a safety issue if you choose to drive. If you get in a wreck, you are taxing a serious emergency situation even more.
One of the people who died is a young girl. Several homes were taken off their foundations on Orville Smith Road. She was in one of them. Her father was also critically hurt. Dozens more were injured in that are, as well as on Lockhart Road. Huntsville Hospital is treating approximately 50 people in the emergency room. The majority are critical, according to spokesperson Cheryl Davis.
Throughout Madison County, Huntsville Utilities crews are working to restore the feed from the TVA. Currently, that feed is out, meaning all customers are without power. It could take four to five days to restore.
Coroner John David Jordan confirms there are eight deaths in Jackson County. One is a 12-year-old boy who lived in Bridgeport. He and his mother were leaving their mobile home to get in a car and drive to safety when they were hit. Both were thrown from the car. He died there; she was rushed by ambulance to Erlanger Hospital in Chattanooga, where she is in serious condition.
A woman died in a mobile home on County Road 359 earlier in the day, in Pisgah. Kathy Gray Haney, 45, was crushed by a piano. Her husband, Wayne Haney, was also inside the trailer and was seriously hurt. He was rushed to Highlands Medical Center in Scottsboro.
An elderly couple also died in the same area of Pisgah, but in a different storm. Herbert and Anne Satterfield died when their home on County Road 369 was blown away.
In Higdon, four people died when their home on County Road 95 was blown away. The four people are related; Coroner Jordan said none of the dead in Higdon were children.
There is also a woman missing in the Higdon area. Jackson County Sheriff's Office and the Volunteer Fire Department are searching areas along County Road 95 for her.
WHNT NEWS 19's Shoals Team is in Phil Campbell, where the situation is dire. There is currently one confirmed death, but Phil Campbell Police Chief Merrell Potter says 12 people are missing. A triage center is set up at the Phil Campbell Rescue Squad office on Broad Street. Several people are coming by the truckload, with injuries to be treated.
A number of downtown businesses, along Broad Street, are almost leveled. These include Nix's Furniture and Appliances, Allen's Auto Parts and Fitts Service and Repair Shop.
Phil Campbell High School also has damage. Part of the roof is on the ground, and trees are down on the campus. Some windows are also damaged.