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Storms damage homes, down power lines across central Alabama

Oct 22, 2023

Katie and Marty Stokes said they never heard anything loud while riding out the storm in the bedroom of their Prattville home with their one-year-old daughter, Margaret. But when the storm ended they found that a tree had crashed through the playroom ceiling of their Quail Run home in the Hunting Ridge neighborhood.

"We had three big trees in the backyard. We looked out and saw the trees down," Katie Stokes said. "It didn't move our patio chairs or umbrella. And the swing set we just built is fine.

"We're good, no one was hurt. That's the important thing."

Severe weather overnight Sunday and early Monday morning caused widespread damage, downed power lines and felled trees across central Alabama, but there were no reports of injuries.

The National Weather Service's Birmingham office confirmed Monday afternoon that an EF-2 tornado touched down in Macon County near Milstead and an EF-0 tornado touched down in Autauga County near the Prattville Country Club. NWS said it is still investigating reports from the Lake Martin area near the Elmore and Tallapoosa county line.

The Hunting Ridge neighborhood in downtown Prattville was heavily damaged with several homes damaged by falling trees, said Police Chief Mark Thompson. About a dozen homes along this block received varying degrees of damage. Most had large pine trees blown onto their roofs.

Earnie and Lynda Evans live a few doors down from the Stokes. A large oak tree crashed through their roof. The Evans' have been in the home about 20 years.

They rode the storms out at their farm in Billingsley.

"We looked at the weather and thought we had a better chance up at the farm," Earnie Evans said. Their next door neighbor called after the storm passed. "He said 'There's tree on your house, and there's a tree on my house.'"

Nearby, Prattville Pickers, on U.S. Highway 82 near the Prattville Country Club, received major structural damage to the front of the building.

More:Elmore County family trapped for hours after tree fell on home Sunday night

The damage in the Hunting Ridge area happened about 10 p.m. Sunday. The area was under a tornado watch and severe thunderstorm warning at the time.

"People need to be aware when a tornado watch or thunderstorm warning is issued," Holmes said. "The means conditions are favorable for tornadoes to form."

Several rounds of severe thunderstorms passed through the area during the day Sunday, Sunday night and the early morning hours of Monday. Downed trees and power lines were also reported in Millbrook, Coosada and Elmore. There were also reports of damage in the Castaway and Tecumseh points areas of Lake Martin.

"We have a lot of trees on a lot of houses," said Keith Barnett, director of the Elmore County Emergency Management Agency. "We have numerous homes with structural damage due to downed trees. It's obvious we had some type of wind event."

The Elmore County Department of Human Resources is still experiencing a power outage as of Monday afternoon. The outage has affected the department's phone services and asks that anyone in need of DHR services call 334-567-5227.

A downed power line was sitting just above the water's surface at Lake Martin between the Ridge Marina and Martin Dam in Elmore County Monday morning. The repair time for the power lines is unknown, the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency said. ALEA asked that all boaters avoid the area.

In Shorter, the cotton gin and support buildings at Milstread Farm Group received heavy damage.

It is likely a tornado caused that damage, Holmes said.

"That was a radar indicted tornado," he said. "We haven't been down there to inspect the damage but were are fairly sure that was a tornado."

As of 7:30 a.m., Alabama Power was reporting 4,500 customers without service, mostly in Tallapoosa and Elmore counties. Damage reported by the company included more than 30 broken poles, damaged infrastructure and transformers and multiple spans of downed wire as a result of fallen trees and large limbs.

No damage had been reported in Montgomery as of 8:30 a.m., according to Montgomery City/County Emergency Management Agency Director Christina Thornton.

The following school districts cancelled or delayed classes on Monday:

Evan Mealins contributed to this story. Contact Montgomery Advertiser reporter Marty Roney at [email protected].