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At least seven dead after tornadoes batter Black Belt last week, Hale and Perry spared from casualties


A line of destructive thunderstorms crossed Alabama last week, bringing with them heavy rains, high winds, and tornadoes. This was the second outbreak of severe weather in 2023 and the first tornado event of the new year.

The storms downed trees and damaged homes and other structures in Hale and Perry Counties, but the western Black Belt was spared from the worst of the storm. Seven people died in Autauga County and destruction in Selma in Dallas County was devastating and widespread. Some estimates say the tornado that affected those two counties traveled a record-breaking 77 miles.

In Hale County, the areas just south and east of Greensboro saw numerous downed trees, which blocked roads and power lines. Winds from what was presumed to be a weak tornado also ripped metal roofing and siding from homes and barns.

There was also damage to the Lock 8 neighborhood near Akron, which was already recovering from earlier storm damage.

ABOVE: High winds, presumably from a weak tornado, blew the metal siding and roof panels off of this barn on Highway 61 south of Greensboro Thursday, and snapped this mature tree like a twig. BELOW: More downed trees impeded traffic and damaged utility lines along Highway 14 east of Greensboro that day following the storms.

In Perry County, downed trees blocked roads, including County Road 23 near Morgan Springs and Spring Hill Church Road. Property damage was less apparent from that storm, which mostly appeared to have affected uninhabited areas of the county.

A tornado that passed over Dallas County that day, though, caused untold amounts of damage to the city of Selma, leveling swaths of neighborhoods as it crossed the town. Fires, presumably related to the storm damage, burned east of town. The storm crossed from Dallas and into Autauga County, where it continued its destruction, killing at least seven people there.

Gov. Kay Ivey, who declared a state of emergency in the area, Rep. Terri Sewell, Sen. Katie Britt, and other officials have visited the area in the days following the storms.

President Joe Biden issued a disaster declaration for Dallas and Autauga Counties, opening up the possibility of FEMA aid to home and business owners trying to rebuild.

Officers from Southern Academy’s Student Government Association volunteered on Monday in Greensboro to help with tornado cleanup and relief efforts.

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