NWS says EF-3 tornado hit Etowah County - WBRC FOX6 News - Birmingham, AL

NWS says EF-3 tornado hit Etowah County

A damaged home on Gene Burns Road in Smiths Institute. Source: Dixon Hayes/WBRC A damaged home on Gene Burns Road in Smiths Institute. Source: Dixon Hayes/WBRC
Damage along Liberty Hill Road. Source: Dixon Hayes/WBRC Damage along Liberty Hill Road. Source: Dixon Hayes/WBRC

Etowah County's top emergency officials say the damage Etowah County suffered from the April 28-29 tornadoes may be among the worst in the state.

Those officials held a news conference Thursday afternoon in the Smiths Institute community, the site of much of the damage that occurred overnight Monday night. As that news conference was going on, the National Weather Service confirmed an EF-3 tornado hit that area.

The Red Cross and United Way are among organizations who had spokespeople present. They spoke of the heavy turnout of volunteers, many of them students at nearby Sardis High School.

Gadsden-Etowah EMA Director Mike Bryant says 29 homes were destroyed, 11 were heavily damaged and another 19 revceived minor damage. Bryant says that count includes Smiths Institute, Sardis City, the Carlisle community and the Mountainboro section of Boaz.

But Smiths Institute was far and away the worst, says Etowah County Sheriff Todd Entrekin.

Entrekin says tornado-damaged areas will be restricted at least through Sunday night with deputies and state troopers manning check points. Volunteers registered to assist in the cleanup will be given wristbands to wear, that will allow them past those checkpoints.

"This isn't a place to come and look, and sightsee, and I'll use the word 'gawk,'" said Entrekin. "Folks lost a lot of stuff here. And you know, they're trying to get their lives back together, you know, and we need to give them the respect to let them get their lives back together and let us help them."

Despite the widespread damage, no one was killed and no one had to be transported to the hospital. Bryant credits education in emergency preparedness.

"I attribute that somewhat to the education process that we've all done, including all agencies, to make sure that people are aware that when these type storms are approaching, to take immediate shelter," Bryant said.

He mentioned earlier in the week how many people used the shelter available at Bethlehem Missionary Baptist Church, which has since served as an emergency operations center, and a volunteer registration centerand  a feeding hall for victims, volunteers and responders.

Other confirmed tornadoes in Alabama included:

Bessemer (Jefferson County) - EF-2

Cullman County - EF-3

Graysville (Jefferson County) - EF-2

Hazel Green (Madison County) - EF-1

Kimberly (Jefferson County) - EF-1

Limestone County - EF-3

Lincoln County - EF-3

Russellville (Franklin County) - EF-1

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