Storm leaves trail of damage
by Star staff
Mar 18, 2013 | 21646 views |  0 comments | 12 12 recommendations | email to a friend | print
A student apartment building at Jacksonville State University was missing most of its roof this afternoon following a powerful storm (Photo by Trent Penny/The Anniston Star)
A student apartment building at Jacksonville State University was missing most of its roof this afternoon following a powerful storm (Photo by Trent Penny/The Anniston Star)
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A storm felled trees, swept away roofs and cut electric power across eastern Alabama this afternoon.

In the storm’s immediate aftermath, dozens of trees were reported down across Calhoun County, some on homes and some blocking roads. The roof an apartment building on the Jacksonville State University campus was blown off.

Tammy Bain, public information officer with Calhoun County Emergency Management Agency said only one injury had been reported in the county, a 10-year-old who had been inside a mobile home north of Jacksonville when a tree fell on it. Bain said the injuries were not severe and the boy was not taken to a hospital.

As of 5:20 p.m., Regional Medical Center and RMC Jacksonville had no patients with storm-related injuries, according to staff at the hospitals. Bryan McCauley, CEO of Stringfellow Memorial Hospital, said there were no patients with storm-related injuries at his emergency room either. However, he noted the hospital did have some downed trees, though nothing that would impact Stringfellow's services.

About 92,000 customers in Alabama Power Company’s eastern division were without power this afternoon after winds of up to 65 mph blew through the area around 4 p.m., said Alyson Tucker, a spokeswoman for Alabama Power. Of those customers, 15,323 were located in Anniston, 5,138 in Jacksonville and 1,386 in Oxford.

Jessica Talley, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Birmingham, said that at as of 6:20 p.m. Monday, there were no reports of any tornadoes in the state. Talley said that at 88 mph, Gadsden had the top wind speed in the state during the storm. There were no wind speed reports for Anniston available, she said.

Angie Finley in the public relations office at Jacksonville State University said the roof of the Campus Inn student apartments had blown off during the storm, and the university was working to find housing arrangements for students living on the second floor. Finley said damage had also been reported to the roof and antenna on the Houston Cole Library, the roof of the Colonial Arms Apartments and windows on the second floor of the alumni building. There were no reported injuries, she said. The library closed, but classes had not been canceled, she said.

Mike Stedham, the director of student media at JSU, said the campus radio station, WLJS went off the air around 5:15 p.m., but was still broadcasting online.

Tammy Bain of the Calhoun County EMA said damage across the area was widespread and said residents should try to stay home if possible, and to avoid driving over down power lines.

Leighann Butler, a planner with the Talladega County Emergency Management Agency, said no injuries had been reported in the county. She said some minor structural damage had been reported in Munford, Talladega and parts of the Talladega Superspeedway.

In Saks, Joshua Bridges, 19, parked his black Honda Accord in a friend’s driveway and waited for his parents to meet him on Indian Oaks Drive, where a tree blocked the street. Bridges said he was driving to his home on Pawnee Drive after attending classes at Jacksonville State University when he saw the obstructed road.

Bridges said there is no other route to his home and he didn’t want to risk driving his car off the road to get around the tree.

“I’m just going to leave the car here,” Bridges said.

Brian Anderson, Rachael Griffin, Laura Johnson, Patrick McCreless and Trent Penny contributed reporting.

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