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January 30, 2013

Sardis suffers brunt of storm damage

CULLMAN — Early morning storms hammered the Sardis community, damaging a several structures, including a church.

Cullman County Emergency Management Agency officials will be in Sardis assessing the full impact of the storm this morning. Assistant Director Kelly Allen said a mobile home was the first report of damage. Later in the morning, reports were received that the steeple of the Baptist church in Sardis was ripped off as well as the roof of the church parsonage.

Across the area, many officials believe damage may be minimal, despite the intensity and speed of the storm.

Hanceville Mayor Kenneth Nail said the storm was reportedly moving at 70 miles per hour as warnings came into his city. More than 250 people flocked to the city’s three new storm shelters in the early morning hours.

“We opened the shelters at 9 last night. By the time the first warning came through people started coming in,” Nail said. “We’re hoping to get two more of these to add convenience for residents. It can be hard to get to a shelter if they’re too far from your home. We would like to have more so that we can cover more areas of town.”

The warnings were plentiful, starting with a severe thunderstorm alert at 5:23 a.m. A tornado warning followed at 5:44 a.m. Allen said the morning totals included three tornado warnings and two severe thunderstorm warnings.

EMA officials also received reports of trees down in several locations across the county. The roof of a barn was reportedly blown away on County Road 1253.

Allen said winds at ground level topped 40 miles per hour in many areas.

City of Cullman street department crews cleared trees from St. Joseph Avenue and Scenic Lane early this morning, while also unstopping a water drain.

Area schools delayed opening because of the storms. County schools start at 11 a.m., while city public schools and private schools are starting at 10 a.m. Wallace State opens at 10 a.m. today.

“For school officials it’s a no-win situation. You never know exactly what will happen, but county school buses would have been on the roads during the highest winds if the delay had not been ordered,” Allen said. “This was a fast-moving storm. It was coming through so fast, it was difficult to keep up with. You hate for anyone to suffer damage, but if this is the worst of it, we can be thankful when you consider the size and strength of what came through the area.”

* David Palmer may be contacted at dpalmer@cullmantimes.com or 256-734-2131, ext. 213.

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