University of Alabama staff survey the damage after an oak tree which fell in front of Moore Hall on the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa, Ala., Monday, March 18, 2013. A thunderstorm with lightning and high winds moved through West Alabama on Monday afternoon downing power lines and toppling trees. (AP Photo/Tuscaloosa News, Robert Sutton)Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.
MONTGOMERY, Ala. — Nearly 100,000 customers were without power across Alabama early today after storms with the force of hurricane winds toppled trees and utility lines.
Alabama Power said early this morning that 98,200 customers were without power as of 6 a.m., down from more than 222,000 customers after the Monday storms.
Most of the customers who remained without power — about 50,000 — were east of Birmingham in communities such as Gadsden, Oneonta, Anniston and Pell City. Dozens of communities around the state experienced significant damage, authorities said.
The damage was caused by straight-line winds of 50 to 75 mph, which is the low end of hurricane force, utility officials said.
Meteorologists recorded wind speeds of 80 mph in some areas.
Dozens of communities experienced significant damage, authorities said.
“The damaged is quite widespread, and in some cases difficult to get to,” Alabama Power said in a 6 a.m. today update on the situation. “We’ve got crews already out this morning, and we’re bringing in reinforcements from other states.”
Etowah County officials said a person had to be removed from a house in Rainbow City after a tree fell onto it. Nearly two dozen trees had toppled onto Alabama Highway 77.
Eight people in the Gadsden area and five others in the county were hospitalized Monday night, but he did not know the extent of their injuries, Gadsden-Etowah County Emergency Management Agency director Mike Bryant said.
DeKalb County EMA director Anthony Clifton said the roof was ripped from a school in Collinsville, about 15 miles southwest of Fort Payne.