A tornado touched down in Cullman, Alabama around 3:00 p.m., moving through the downtown area and leaving behind significant damage in its wake. "Debris was flying everywhere," said Ashley Nix. "There is no doubt there's more damage in the county."
Traffic came to a standstill, trees and power lines were down "everywhere," making most of the roads impassable. The Cullman Courthouse was damaged, as were the First Federal Bank, First Baptist Church and at least one home.
The funnel cloud passed right over the hospital and there have been some unconfirmed reports of structural damage to the hospital. There were reports of unconfirmed injuries and Nix described reports of people giving CPR in the streets.
Crews have blocked off the entire downtown area and are working to repair the damage.
At least 16 people have been killed by the powerful storms battering the South.
There have been deaths reported from Arkansas to Alabama, where there have been five deaths. Alabama's governor says there could be a half-dozen more deaths.
The victims include a police officer who was camping with his daughter in Mississippi. He was struck by a tree while trying to shield his daughter. The 9-year-old wasn't injured.
Aiken Electric Cooperative is sending two four-man crews to assist with storm restoration at Sand Mountain Electric Cooperative in Rainsville, Alabama, according to Aiken Electric CEO Gary Stooksbury. Aiken Electric had only scattered outages throughout their nine-county service territory during the severe weather that moved through the area earlier today.
The Electric Cooperatives of South Carolina estimated that Alabama electric co-ops have as many as 300,000 outages with a large number of broken poles. Some of the outages are due to TVA's downed transmission lines and poles, but several Alabama co-ops have zero meters turning.
Copyright 2011 WIS. All rights reserved. AP and WBRC contributed to this report.
WISTV License Subsidiary, LCC
1111 Bull St.