Storm causes minor damage
A line of strong storms that passed through the area on Monday left power outages, downed trees and property damage across the county, officials said.
According to Franklin County Emergency Management Agency Director Roy Gober, power outages were reported in Vina and Hodges as well as other rural areas in the county.
He said trees were also reported downed in Vina, Hodges, Red Bay, Russellville and Spruce Pine as well as the communities of Pleasant Site, East Franklin and Blue Springs.
“We had trees down all over the county and we had two trees that fell on homes in the Pleasant Site community and one tree that fell on a home on College Avenue in Russellville,” Gober said.
“There was also a report that about 50 ft. of roofing had been blown off some chicken houses in the Pleasant Site community as well.”
Gober said all the damage appeared to be from straight line and strong winds except for a portion on Franklin 90 in Pleasant Site where the damage was a little more extensive.
“Normally with straight lines winds, trees will all be blown over in the same direction,” Gober said. “On this particular part of Highway 90, the trees were all blown in different directions.
“We’ll have people from the National Weather Service who will be here in two to three days to check for the possibility that a very small tornado may have passed through that area due to the direction the trees were blown in.”
Gober said weather service officials were currently tied up in Northeast Alabama where there might have been other possible tornados.
“Tornados can occur in any month of the year but they are more likely to occur between April and October,” Gober said.
“Since we are moving in to that timeframe when severe weather is more likely, our residents need to take steps now to be prepared in case more severe weather strikes our area.”
Gober said the best tool he would recommend would be a NOAA weather radio, which can give alerts if bad weather is headed close by.
He also recommended the Alabama Saf-T-Net weather alert program that sends out text message and e-mail alerts, which can be accessed by visiting www.saftnet2.baronservices.com/wbhm.
“Weather radios and weather alert programs can be very valuable because they can alert you in enough time to get to a safe place,” Gober said.
“It’s also important to have a plan in place beforehand of where you will go in the event of severe weather. If the sirens and alerts are already going off, you usually have about 10-15 minutes to get somewhere safe and that isn’t the time to be trying to figure out where you need to go.”
Gober said Franklin County currently has 25 weather sirens in place and will be installing four more in the coming months.
He said Franklin County also has seven storm shelters – two in Russellville, two in Red Bay, one in Phil Campbell, one in Vina and one in Hodges – and an additional 10 storms shelters would be installed throughout the county thanks to Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) grants.
He said three of those 10 new storm shelters have already been installed in Pleasant Site, Burnout and Belgreen.
“The best thing you can do to protect against severe weather is be prepared,” Gober said.
“Stay weather aware, have some way of being alerted to imminent severe weather and have a plan in place and know where to go for safety.”
Franklin County residents can check the county’s GIS website at virtualfranklincounty.org/maps to find the nearest storm shelters in the community.