Tornado slams Alabama; 2 dead, 100 hurt in storms
The Associated Press
Published Monday, January 23, 2012 5:56PM EST
OAK GROVE, Ala. - Violent weather including two tornadoes roared across the state in the middle of the night Monday, injuring more than 100 people and killing two, including a man who lived in an area devastated by a deadly twister outbreak in the spring.
More than 200 homes were destroyed, the Red Cross said, and just as many houses were heavily damaged.
The storm awoke families, and many huddled together as winds howled outside. After the storms passed, rescue teams had to go door-to-door in some places, calling out to residents.
This central Alabama area near Birmingham has a history of being a tornado alley. In April, about 20 people were killed in Jefferson County, most of them close to Oak Grove.
In April 1998 a tornado killed 34 people, injured 260 and destroyed Oak Grove High School. The storm left barren what was once a heavily-wooded section of the county.
Retiree Mary Roberts covered her mouth with her hand and grew misty-eyed describing what happened within sight of her mobile home on Toadvine Cemetery Road in Oak Grove.
Just across the street, a twister ripped apart Amber and Russ Butler' trailer, which was scattered across a pasture. The couple took cover in a relative's brick home, and they were not injured.
Further down the road, Roberts' sister, Janice Sims, lost her husband Bobby and her home.
"They have a camper buried that they use to get down in during storms, but it happened so quick they couldn't get to it," she said.
Roberts said her sister is hospitalized but should recover. "I just don't know what she's going to do," she said.
The storm system stretched from the Great Lakes to the Gulf of Mexico, producing hail, strong winds and rain.
In Clay, northeast of Birmingham, 16-year-old Christina Nicole Heichelbech was killed, the Jefferson County coroner's office said. Rescue workers said her parents were injured.