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Spring storms leave trail of damage across county

Severe weather disrupted life in Franklin County this past week, with storms hitting Thursday and Saturday.

The storms Thursday largely missed Franklin County, with the storm splitting and hitting to the north and south. The storm Saturday brought damage across the county from straight-line winds, with several power outages.

“This is what I consider pretty typical weather for this time of year in Alabama,” said Franklin County EMA Director Mary Hallman Glass. “Typically March, April and May tend to be our months with a lot of bad weather.”

The storms Thursday prompted schools to dismiss early as a precaution but did not cause major damage.

The only reported damage from the storm Thursday was major flooding on Highway 90, which is still closed, as well as other county roads.

A tornado warning was issued around 2:30 p.m. Thursday for Franklin County, but this warning was eventually removed to only encompass Colbert and Lauderdale counties.

“The storms really split around us,” Hallman Glass said. “Pretty much all we ended up getting was a flooded road.”

Several tornados were confirmed Thursday in Central Alabama near Birmingham and Tuscaloosa, which did significant damage in some areas.

“This is why we prepare because you never know which areas will end up with bad storms,” Hallman Glass said.

The Saturday storms brought damage across the county, with lots of trees down and destruction at local sites including the Russellville Municipal Airport, the John Blackwell Sports Complex and Pinkard Funeral Home.

“We had a small number of power outages because of straight-line winds, but the majority of these were restored within one or two hours,” said a representative with Russellville Utilities. “The remainder of power outages we had remained off due to extensive damage to their home.”

Mark Stockton with Franklin Electric said approximately 675 customers lost power over the weekend. He said the first reports of power outages came in early Sunday morning, but all power had been restored by Sunday afternoon.

Hallman Glass said the worst portion of the storm in Franklin County Saturday occurred in Russellville, with the line traveling diagonally from Highway 43 and Walnut Gate Road.

Russellville Police Chief Chris Hargett said the majority of cleanup inside the city limits was done by the street department, but many groups came together to assist in any way they could.

“Everyone tries to do their best to assist each other where possible,” Hargett said. “Even though we can’t necessarily help with fallen trees, we can help them by blocking the streets to allow them to get their equipment in there.”

Hallman Glass said damage in the area is still being evaluated to determine whether a tornado developed in this portion of the storm, but she said from what she saw, she doubted any tornadic activity.

“I think we just had a lot of straight-line winds, but those can also produce a lot of damage,” Hallman Glass said.