Storms kill dozens across state

Published 12:02 am Thursday, April 28, 2011

Gov. Robert Bentley mobilized the National Guard and President Barack Obama promised federal assistance after central and north Alabama residents were hit by devastating storms, including a nearly mile-wide tornado that destroyed parts of Tuscaloosa and continued to Birmingham Wednesday evening.

Approximately 1,400 Alabama National Guardsmen will provide emergency assistance to the Alabama counties impacted by the severe weather outbreak, Bentley said.

Across the state, the death toll rose through the evening, standing at 58 late Wednesday night. At least 15 people were killed in Tuscaloosa. Cullman and the small towns of Pleasant Grove, near Birmingham, and Phil Campbell, in Franklin County, were also hard hit.

University of Alabama officials said there did not appear to be any damage on campus in Tuscaloosa, but businesses and homes along the 15th Street near campus were destroyed.

With the activation of the Alabama National Guard, the guardsmen will be on the ground early Thursday morning to help with search and rescue operations, logistical coordination of debris removal and provide security assistance to local law enforcement agencies.
“I have activated the Alabama National Guard to provide assistance whenever and wherever they are needed to help our local communities that have experienced widespread destruction today,” Bentley said. “These guardsmen are well trained and will take every action necessary to protect lives and property in this emergency.”

Counties that have requested assistance from the Alabama National Guard include:  Marshall County, Tuscaloosa County, Limestone County, Cullman County, Jefferson County and Lawrence County.

Road closure information is available at the Alabama Department of Transportation Web site: http://aldotgis.dot.state.al.us/RoadClosures/Default.aspx