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County escapes major damage from severe weather

By J.R. TIDWELL/Editor

Chilton County was part of a severe weather event that passed through Alabama on March 14.

Around 7 p.m. the National Weather Service for Chilton County issued a tornado warning through 7:30 p.m.

The storm moved into the area just north of Maplesville and was predicted to travel between Jemison and Thorsby.

At approximately 7:30 p.m. Chilton County E-911 began receiving reports from local law enforcement of trees down due to a possible tornado touchdown in Gap of the Mountain centered on County Road 55.

“Damage reports continuing to come in in Gap of Mtn area. Co Rd 55. As of 8 p.m. no injury reports but widespread damage,” the agency tweeted.

At 11:30 p.m. E-911 said there were “widespread power lines and trees down, some structural damage, a few minor injuries but no one transported to hospitals.”

Chilton County Sheriff John Shearon confirmed on the morning of March 15 there were no major injuries reported from the event, just some minor injuries and structural damage to things like “roofs and carports” of buildings.

Upon surveying the damage, Shearon said he believes no tornado touched down onto the ground, though a funnel cloud may have been up in the air.

He said there were twisted treetops but no path of destruction seen after a tornado touches down.

Shearon relayed a report of one woman in the Gap of the Mountain area who was watching weather coverage and said she had just heard the storm system was crossing over Thorsby when it struck her location.

“She took cover in her bathtub, and a pine tree fell on her trailer,” he said.

Shearon said the woman was concerned she was entrapped, and trees were down on County Road 55 making it difficult to respond.

However, Shearon said Chief Deputy Shane Mayfield managed to make it to her location and make sure she was unharmed. The woman was said to have only sustained minor injuries.

Shearon said multiple agencies responded to the scene to aid with the efforts to ensure the safety of residents.

As of 9 a.m. on March 15, E-911 reported there were still tress down in the 6000-7000 block of County Road 55 and Alabama Power was working to restore power to the area.

Alabama Power reported 9,500 power outages across the state around 9 p.m. March 14, with that number down to 4,600 by 4 a.m. March 15 and 1,450 two hours later.

1,800 customers in Chilton County were reported to be without power after the storms, with the number down to 1,100 at 6 a.m. Friday morning.

“Damage includes broken poles and downed wire as a result of fallen trees,” the company said.

The National Weather Service posted just before midnight on March 14 that nine areas of interest existed that would be surveyed to determine the amount of damage.

One of those teams was set to survey Chilton County on March 15.

The storm system that caused damage in Gap of the Mountain moved out of Chilton County into Coosa County at approximately 7:45 p.m.