Marbury, Ala. ( Associated Press) – An Alabama auto mechanic took refuge in a dumpster after a severe tornado tore through his shop, killing two of his neighbors during the storm’s destructive path in Alabama and Georgia.
The tragic stories of David Holan and other survivors of Thursday’s storm are coming to light as residents peer through the debris left behind by the tornado and windstorm, which has been blamed for the deaths of at least nine people.
In Alabama, in rural Autauga County, where at least seven people have died, Hollen and his workers watched as a massive tornado struck. He had to take shelter immediately.
Holon said that they all ran towards a metal container that was planted on the ground. Once inside, Hallen began quickly dialing a neighbor on the phone. But when he heard the storm destroy the garage, the calls kept going to voicemail.
He told that when the storm passed and everyone came out of the container, they found the body of their neighbor on the road. A family member said another neighbor who lived down the street had also died.
“I think we did the best we could. We had damage but we’re still here,” Holan, 52, said in an interview Saturday as he walked through the ruins of his garage and then saw damaged vehicles, broken glass, Road littered with fallen tree limbs, scrap lumber and other debris.
Leighia Johnson, a 54-year-old cafeteria worker who lives in Autauga County, stood among the shattered remains of her mobile home. Pointing to the pile of debris, he said it was his bedroom, bathroom and kitchen.
A swing he had put up in his backyard was now between some trees across the road. An outdoor bounce house fell into several trees in a neighbor’s front yard.
“The trailer should be here, and it’s gone,” Johnson pointed to the debris-covered slab. “That’s how it is everywhere now.”
The storm spawned powerful tornadoes and lightning in Alabama and Georgia, uprooting trees, blowing away mobile homes, derailing a freight train, flipping vehicles, snapping utility poles and downing power lines Due to which thousands of people went without electricity.
According to the National Weather Service, at least 14 counties in Alabama and 14 counties in Georgia reported damage caused by the tornado.
Autauga County officials said the tornado had winds of at least 136 mph (218 km/h) and that its damage was consistent with an EF3 tornado, two categories below the most powerful.
County officials said at least a dozen people were hospitalized and about 40 homes were destroyed or severely damaged, including mobile homes that were blown away.
Residents described chaotic scenes as the storm headed their way.
When the storm hit, people ran to shelters, bathtubs and sheds. In one case, a search party found five people who were trapped but unharmed inside a storm shelter, the wall of which had been formed by the collapse of a neighboring house.
Downtown Selma sustained heavy damage before the worst of the storm moved south toward Atlanta, Georgia. No deaths have been reported in Selma.