At Least 6 People Dead Due to Severe Storms and Tornados in Alabama

At Least 6 People Dead Due to Severe Storms and Tornados in Alabama

At least six people are reported to have died in Alabama from multiple tornados that swept across the central part of the state Thursday.

NBC affiliate WSFA12 reported that interim Autauga County Sheriff David Hill confirmed the fatalities to reporters shortly after 6.00 p.m. Thursday. Hill added that more deaths are possible after reports of extensive damage to homes and severe injuries in Old Kingston.

The Sheriff's department also confirmed "several deaths" on their Facebook page Thursday but did not specify the exact number.

"Please continue to pray for Autauga County," added the post. "We had a major tornado touch down in the center of the County and exit our Northeast corner into Elmore County. Several lives were lost and we ask for prayers for these families. There is also widespread house and property damage in these areas, pray for those who lost homes. We have a long road ahead but if we work together we can rebuild.  Stay Strong Autauga County!"

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Damaged structure and debris are seen in the aftermath of severe weather, in Selma, Ala. A large tornado damaged homes and uprooted trees in Alabama on Thursday as a powerful storm system pushed through the South Severe Weather Tornado, Selma, United States - 12 Jan 2023
Damaged structure and debris are seen in the aftermath of severe weather, in Selma, Ala. A large tornado damaged homes and uprooted trees in Alabama on Thursday as a powerful storm system pushed through the South Severe Weather Tornado, Selma, United States - 12 Jan 2023

Butch Dill/AP/Shutterstock

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Autauga County EMA Ernie Baggett also reported multiple power lines down in the area. "Damage is extensive," he wrote on Twitter, alongside some images of the devastation. Speaking to the Associated Press, he added that several mobile homes had been launched into the air during the storm. "They weren't just blown over. They were blown a distance," he told the outlet.

Search operations reportedly restarted at 6:30 a.m. on Friday morning after working throughout the night, reported AP.

Damaged home is seen in the aftermath of severe weather, near Prattville, Ala. A large tornado damaged homes and uprooted trees in Alabama on Thursday as a powerful storm system pushed through the South Severe Weather Tornado, Prattville, United States - 12 Jan 2023
Damaged home is seen in the aftermath of severe weather, near Prattville, Ala. A large tornado damaged homes and uprooted trees in Alabama on Thursday as a powerful storm system pushed through the South Severe Weather Tornado, Prattville, United States - 12 Jan 2023

Vasha Hunt/AP/Shutterstock

"This evening we deployed our Mobile Command Trailer to assist responders in one of the areas hit in Autauga County," read a Facebook post on Thursday from the Chilton County EMA. "It was heartbreaking to see the damage and those who have lost so much. It was promising, however, to see so many people from all walks of life stop what they were doing to help."

"Many volunteer fire departments, Police officers from various agencies, and our Sheriff's Office also sent resources to assist in Autauga, Elmore, and Coosa Counties," added the post. "All the while, Chilton County 911 kept track of us all and pointed in the right direction. Thank you everyone!"

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All that remains of a house on County Road 43 is the foundation in aftermath from severe weather, in Prattville, Ala. A giant, swirling storm system billowing across the South spurred a tornado on Thursday that shredded the walls of homes, toppled roofs and uprooted trees in Selma, Alabama, a city etched in the history of the civil rights movement Severe Weather Tornado, Prattville, United States - 12 Jan 2023
All that remains of a house on County Road 43 is the foundation in aftermath from severe weather, in Prattville, Ala. A giant, swirling storm system billowing across the South spurred a tornado on Thursday that shredded the walls of homes, toppled roofs and uprooted trees in Selma, Alabama, a city etched in the history of the civil rights movement Severe Weather Tornado, Prattville, United States - 12 Jan 2023

Vasha Hunt/AP/Shutterstock

Meteorologists at the National Weather Service in Huntsville, Alabama confirmed Thursday that an EF-1 tornado traveled across parts of Lawrence, Morgan, and Limestone counties with "had a path length of just over 30 miles," according to the NWS Huntsville's Twitter page.

Later that evening, the service announced the warning for severe weather had ended, but still advised caution due to a wind advisory in effect until 9 p.m. that same day, with "gusty winds" up to 30-40 mph.

Also via Twitter, meteorologist James Spann explained that despite some national media reports stating severe weather is "rare" in January, "tornado season in Alabama runs from November through May."

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An SUV is overturned near 1349 County Road 43 in the aftermath from severe weather, in Prattville, Ala. A giant, swirling storm system billowing across the South spurred a tornado on Thursday that shredded the walls of homes, toppled roofs and uprooted trees in Selma, Alabama, a city etched in the history of the civil rights movement Severe Weather Tornado, Prattville, United States - 12 Jan 2023
An SUV is overturned near 1349 County Road 43 in the aftermath from severe weather, in Prattville, Ala. A giant, swirling storm system billowing across the South spurred a tornado on Thursday that shredded the walls of homes, toppled roofs and uprooted trees in Selma, Alabama, a city etched in the history of the civil rights movement Severe Weather Tornado, Prattville, United States - 12 Jan 2023

Vasha Hunt/AP/Shutterstock

On Friday, Chilton County EMA addressed the people affected by the natural disasters in Alabama.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with those affected by the devastating tornadoes yesterday. I'm so thankful we live in a community that is willing to jump in and help," EMA director Terra Scott wrote on the organization's Facebook page. "Thank you to all the LE agencies, fire departments, forestry, Ema, and volunteers who all went to help with search and rescue efforts."

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"I would also like to say thank you to the employees of Chilton County 911 for doing a great job of communicating with our responders and with other counties to help coordinate getting them the help they needed," Scott continued. "Yesterday was tragic, but seeing the willingness of everyone ready to help was amazing."

"Please continue to keep those who lost loved ones, and their homes in your thoughts and prayers," Scott continued.

Late Thursday, The National Weather Service said that tornado damage was reported in at least 14 Alabama counties and five Georgia counties, with tens of thousands of people reportedly without power in the two states combined.

A relief page for people affected by Alabama's tornadoes has been set up by the Central Alabama Community Foundation.

The Autauga County Sheriff's Department did not immediately respond to PEOPLE's request for comment.