Updated: Severe weather damages the city of Luverne

Published 10:59 am Tuesday, April 4, 2017

On Monday, April 3, severe weather struck the city of Luverne. The National Weather Service has confirmed that an EF0 tornado with macrobursts did touchdown in Luverne. Journal Photo/Shayla Terry

By: Shayla Terry

On Monday morning, a severe storm swept through the city of Luverne, leaving areas without power and causing structural damage to more than 40 businesses and residences. But no casualties or severe injures were reported.

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Crenshaw County is now under the emergency notification system, CodeRED. The system did not alert residents of the touchdown because Crenshaw County Emergency Management Agency director Elliot Jones said the tornado formed there. “The tornado formed over Luverne, so there was probably a full five minutes before the National Weather Service satellites picked it up,” Jones said. “My weather radio went off simultaneously with the CodeRed alarm, but the tornado had already run through here.”

Crenshaw County was under a tornado watch issued at 7 a.m. At 9 a.m., the county was upgraded to a tornado warning. Shortly after, a touchdown ensued.

“What made it so bad today was that it was the worst-case scenario,” Jones said. “It went across the business district and created a mess. It hit everything in town.”

At least three businesses on South Forest Avenue, Luverne’s main street, are without roofs.

“It took the roof of my shop,” said Luverne Mayor Ed Beasley, who owns a barbershop downtown. “It took the roof off of Radio Shack and B&B Drugs, plus several minor obstructions downtown.”

Beasley says that currently 80 percent of Luverne has electrical power, and that efforts are being made to restore the city to 95 percent function by the end of the day on Tuesday, April 4.

“The electrical department will be around the clock until we get power back to everybody,” he said. “We have our crew, two crews from local coops, and we have contracted a crew to come in to restore electricity.”

Luverne Elementary School and Luverne High School are still without power, as well as homes on First Street and Deep Wood Drive, which will require electricity poles to be reset.

On West Fourth Street, a mobile home owned by Regina Laird was completely destroyed.

“It was a normal day,” Laird said. “We got up and were eating breakfast, and the lights blinked off and came back on.”

Laird says she looked out of the window to the old Slacks Factory across from her home, and saw its roof was deteriorating.

“It, all of sudden, got real dark, so I was going to shut the front door,” she said. “Before I could get it shut, the tornado was already flipping us over.”

Laird’s children and mother-in-law were in the home at the time of touchdown. The weather flipped the mobile home more than 15 feet from its original position, leaving it roofless and completely dismantled.

“We lost everything,” Laird said. “We’ve picked through what we could find clothes-wise, but everything is gone.”

On Sixth Street, which runs parallel to Fourth Street, homes have been obstructed with uprooted trees falling through roofs.

West Third Street was closed for the majority of the day due to uprooted trees being jammed into power lines.

Jones says Wednesday, April 5, forecast has much of the same predictions that Monday had.

“Wednesday is possible going to be as bad, or worse than today,” he said. “Cleanup efforts depend on Wednesday. If it doesn’t cause too much trouble, we hope to have most things cleaned up by Friday.”

Readiness played a key role in recovery of the city of Luverne. With weather reports going out on Sunday about the impending weather, all county schools and a few businesses were closed on Monday.

“It was the worst-case situation with the absolute best turnout,” Jones said. “Nobody got injured or hurt, and we had all of our resources at work immediately. It’s what planning and being prepared is all about.”

The National Weather Service has determined that a macrobust with an EF0 tornado embedded inside of it is the cause of damage to Luverne.

The American Red Cross has been setup at Luverne United Methodist Church.

All reports of damage to residential and business properties should be made to the Crenshaw County EMA office at 334-335-4538.