published Saturday, May 24th, 2014

Tornado outbreak: April 28 storms 4th-largest in North Alabama history

From left, Brantley Bruce, Luke Smith and Luis Garcia walk
through debris on the farm of Steve Rogers as they and others
clean up damage from strong storms that destroyed several
houses in DeKalb County, Ala., on April 28.
From left, Brantley Bruce, Luke Smith and Luis Garcia walk through debris on the farm of Steve Rogers as they and others clean up damage from strong storms that destroyed several houses in DeKalb County, Ala., on April 28.
Photo by John Rawlston.

FEMA HELP

Storm victims who might qualify for assistance should contact the Federal Emergency Management Agency at 800-621-3362, FEMA.gov or call the DeKalb County Emergency Management Agency at 256-845-8569 for more information.

The storms that struck Northeast Alabama and South Central Tennessee on April 28 produced the fourth-largest tornado outbreak in North Alabama history, officials said.

The National Weather Service office in Huntsville, Ala., confirmed seven tornadoes ranging from EF0 to EF3 touched down in DeKalb County that day, and 23 were confirmed in the North Alabama and South Central Tennessee coverage area, DeKalb County Emergency Management Agency director Anthony Clifton said Friday.

Clifton said 51 homes were damaged, with 16 of them destroyed, and 20 homes were left with major damage. Of those 16 homes, 10 were traditional homes and the others were mobile homes, he said. The county received a presidential disaster declaration.

The severity of the storms has escaped notice because much of the damage was in very rural areas, he said.

"This was a significant EF3 event. When you get seven tornadoes in one county in one night, and 5 inches of rain, that's a significant event," he said. "But costwise, we had more damage from water than we did wind."

The town of Valley Head had severe flood damage in its small downtown area, he noted.

Tornadoes struck the communities of Aroney, Dawson, Pine Ridge, Pumpkin Center, Shiloh and the town of Mentone. Aroney was hit twice that day.

One home in the Shiloh community where five people were killed in the April 27, 2011, tornado outbreak was hit again by this year's storms, he said. He said relatives of that family had rebuilt the home.

There were no injuries or deaths in DeKalb County this time, he said.

There was one report of a person having chest pains at one of the community storm shelters that turned out to be an anxiety attack, and one woman went into labor during the storms, he said.

The only injuries that happened were scratches and cuts during cleanup.

"The reason that nobody was killed in this storm is that people paid attention," he said.

The 10 new storm shelters built in DeKalb County since the 2011 outbreak were all at or over capacity on April 28, he said.

Michael Posey, the county's assistant EMA director, said that of the homes that were damaged or destroyed, just 11 of them were insured.

The loss for dwellings stands at $1.2 million, he said.

Other costs associated with the storms included $2.86 million in road damage, $438,700 in damage to utilities, $27,200 in costs for barricades for damaged roads and bridges, $73,500 in damage to buildings other than dwellings and $780,000 in debris removal costs, so far, Posey said.

Debris cleanup that began Wednesday will continue through next week.

Contact staff writer Ben Benton at bbenton@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6569.

Previous news report:

about Ben Benton...

Ben Benton is a news reporter at the Chattanooga Times Free Press. He covers Southeast Tennessee and previously covered North Georgia education. Ben has worked at the Times Free Press since November 2005, first covering Bledsoe and Sequatchie counties and later adding Marion, Grundy and other counties in the northern and western edges of the region to his coverage. He was born and raised in Cleveland, Tenn., a graduate of Bradley Central High School. Benton ...

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