A powerful storm damaged several homes and tore the roof off of the White City Community Center on Thursday afternoon.

No one was reported injury.

A series of severe thunderstorm and tornado warnings began around 3:45 p.m. as they developed ahead of a fast-moving cold front. Heavy rains and winds pushed through Cullman County, but damage appeared to be limited to the White City community north of Hanceville.

Hanceville mayor Kenneth Nail, who responded alongside the city’s fire, police, and public works employees, said the damage appeared to be limited to the area around the community center.

“We have downed trees here, all kind of downed power lines, and several dead animals in the pasture out here,” he said. “But I think it’s all right here in this area, and that’s all.”

White City residents Kathy and Randy McLeroy survived the storm in their basement, even though their house and three other buildings were destroyed or heavily damaged.

"We saw debris flying and went to the basement," Kathy McLeroy said. "There was so much pressure when it was over us."

The McLeroys lost a number of chickens and rabbits, but eventually found their dog, Mabel, alive and well.

"This is a 100-year-old house we bought with some land, because Randy wanted to have some animals. The top of the garage is in a field across the street and our cars are all damaged."

She also said the house shifted during the storm.

"It happened quickly. We could hear a roaring sound when it came through," she said.

Anticipating the potential for the afternoon’s severe weather, the Hanceville City Council already had canceled its regular 6 p.m. meeting earlier in the day Thursday. A planned Irish heritage celebration set for Saturday in the city’s downtown, said Nail, will still go on as planned.

The Johnson’s Crossing volunteer fire department also responded at the scene, along with workers from the Cullman County Road Department.

Cullman County Commission Chairman Kenneth Walker said road crews will be working through today to clear trees and debris.

"There are a lot of trees down near White City as well," Walker said.

A determination of whether the damage was caused by a tornado will be made by the National Weather Service, said Cullman County Emergency Management Agency Director Phyllis Little.

"I wouldn't be surprised if it was a small tornado, but the weather service folks will make that determination after they can get here and examine all the features from the storm," Little said.

The community center is designated as a voting precinct, which was scheduled to be used in Tuesday's tax renewal election. Walker said the County Commission will designate a new location for the election.

Trees were also reported down along County Roads 703 and 766.

The mobile home that was crushed is located on County Road 601. Little said the family was in a public storm shelter when the storm struck the area.

The former Jet Pep headquarters building in Holly Pond also was damaged.

Another storm crossed through a portion of Cullman County just after 6 p.m., but there were no warnings.

The Cullman Electric Cooperative also dispatched crews to restore power in some areas.

David Palmer may be contacted at 256-734-2131, ext. 116.

Benjamin Bullard of The Times contributed to this report.

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David Palmer has decades of experience in the newspaper industry. He currently serves as editor of The Cullman Times.

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