Cherokee County experienced its share of severe weather Thursday – starting with a tornado watch, a severe thunderstorm warning, a flash flood warning, and finally, for the extreme southeastern portion of the county – a tornado warning.
The heavy rains and high winds brought down trees across the area, causing flooding issues with some roads having to be barricaded and traffic re-routed – this also led to widespread power outages and there were reports of some structure damage with at least one roof being torn off in the Spring Garden area. There was also a two-vehicle accident that claimed one life that evening, with the collision possibly being weather-related.
For the most part, things began to calm down by around 7:00pm however rainfall did stay in the picture off and on throughout the night – here at WEIS Radio, we received more than four inches of rain in under 24 hours.
We spoke with County Engineer Corey Chambers Friday morning, regarding the road conditions:
We also talked to Randall Wilkie with the Cherokee Electric Co op – who informed us, at one point, around 3,400 people were without power – that number is now down to just over 800 due to the diligence and dedication of the Cherokee Electric employees who worked through the night – and will be working throughout the day today.
The biggest problem at this point is getting into the areas where power is still out, as road conditions are extremely bad in certain locations beyond Knightens Crossroads going toward Jacksonville.
Wilkie added that assistance is coming from outside power crews, however it may be tomorrow before they can arrive; he did make it clear that Cherokee Electric Co-op is doing everything within their power to restore service to ALL their customers just as quickly as possible.
Those storms including tornadoes, left a path of destruction across the area – leaving at least five dead in Calhoun County. Coroner Pat Brown confirmed the five deaths – four adults were killed in Ohatchee – three of them in one family, while a female was killed in the Wellington area. None of the victims’ identities have yet been released. According to EMA officials in Calhoun County the stormfront cut through Ohatchee in the northern portion of the county and it left a trail in the area of Ragan Chapel Road, demolishing the church off Alabama 77, downing trees and power lines.
At a 10:00pm news conference – Calhoun County Sheriff Matthew Wade said the path of the storm extended from River Road in Ohatchee through Wellington to Kimberly Road in Piedmont. Multiple injuries were also reported as the strong system snapped dozens of trees in Helena, Pelham, Hoover and the Eagle Point area.