The fast-moving line of strong thunderstorms that swept through Cullman County midday on Saturday caused no reported loss of life or injuries in Cullman, but left thousands of rural residents without power in dozens of small, highly localized outages that utility officials said would likely take the rest of the evening — and possibly through Sunday — to fully repair.
Cullman Electric Cooperative communications manager Brian Lacy said 5,500 co-op members were without power as of 4 p.m. Saturday afternoon, spread across approximately 100 separate outages. Co-op crews, as well as contract workers, were in the field throughout the county in the storm’s wake, and Lacy said they would remain on the job around the clock until all co-op members’ power had been restored.
“As you’d expect with a storm like this, there are a lot of trees on power lines, broken limbs, and those type of things that are causing lots of small, scattered outages,” he said. “It’s probably going to be an all-day, into-the-night kind of effort to get everything back on line for all of our members.”
The Cullman County Emergency Management Agency reported the storm left a broad swath of minor to moderate damage, mostly caused by high wind gusts in excess of 70 miles per hour. Where trees did fall, though, the damage ranged from light to extensive, depending on the structures that lay in their path.
Homeowner Darron Jennings shared on social media a photo of the damage his historic two-story house sustained on Welti Road, after winds toppled one of the old oak trees in his yard. At Holly Pond, the school campus sustained damage to an awning covering a sidewalk, as well as window damage to four school buses and to a greenhouse. County schools superintendent Shane Barnette tweeted images of the damage Saturday afternoon, grateful that no one was injured.
Surveying reported damage along County Road 1691 near Baileyton, EMA director Phyllis Little said by phone that what she’d been seeing throughout the area were lots of snapped branches, localized damage to roofs and outbuildings, and downed trees. No single area of the county appeared to have sustained an extraordinary amount of damage, though Little said reports the the EMA were still coming in late Saturday.
“It’s been mostly minor damage across the area,” Little said. “There’s some residential damage on Bolte Road, where trees have been downed, but thankfully nothing major. I’m on [County Road] 1691 at Baileyton now, and I’m seeing that a roof for a high-roofed carport has been blown away. There’s tin from outbuildings that has been blown around.
"There’s also the damage that’s been reported at Holly Pond school, and at Joppa, there’s a nursery that lost a roof. Everything I’m seeing looks like a result of straight line winds, but thankfully there have been no reported injuries, and no reports of major flooding.”
The same line of storms killed three people in Pickens County, near Carrollton, Saturday. At least 10 people died as the storm system swept across the Southeast states.
Cullman Electric Cooperative maintains an online outage map for its service area which updates every few minutes with real-time information. You can access the co-op's outage viewer here.