Storms kill across South, do little damage in Butler, Lowndes counties

Published 9:00 am Wednesday, April 15, 2020

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A series of violent storms swept through a wide patch of southern states, including Alabama on Easter Sunday, but left little damage locally.

The storms are responsible for at least 11 deaths in Mississippi and pounded areas from Texas to North Carolina killing people in several states.

Butler County spent most of the afternoon under severe thunderstorm and tornado watches. A portion of northern Butler County was placed under a tornado warning during the late afternoon, but no tornadoes were reported. Later in the evening, Butler County was placed under a severe thunderstorm warning and heavy rains and lightning could be seen across the county.

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Locally, numerous fire departments in Butler and Lowndes counties responded to reports of trees down. In Butler County, there were at least a dozen calls for trees blocking roadways.

Pioneer Electric reported more than 1,633 members affected with 1,097 still not restored as of midday Monday, including 172 in Butler County, 133 in Lowndes County and 39 in Crenshaw County.

Alabama Power spokesman Michael Keith Jordan said approximately 132,000 people across the state that are served by the company lost power. In Butler County, Alabama Power reported approximately 200 customers without power as of Monday morning. In Lowndes County, that number was more than 1,500.

“Outages remain widespread at this time in Central Alabama,” Jordan said Monday morning. “We are working to assess the damage and have many reports of broken poles and downed wires as a result of falling trees and large limbs.”

Lowndes County Sheriff Chris West said that most of the reports he had received were regarding downed trees, limbs and power lines. Burkville Volunteer Fire Department Chief Dustin Casey said his department answered calls of trees down on roadways, but nothing serious.

Gov. Kay Ivey also declared a State of Emergency ahead of the storms.

“On this Easter Sunday, Alabama faces the potential for inclement weather, and we want all Alabama families to be prepared for whatever comes our way,” Ivey said. “Any provision of the COVID-19 orders is suspended to the extent that its application or enforcement would endanger any person affected by tonight’s severe weather. Shelters and community safe rooms should remain open and accessible to all individuals seeking refuge from this severe weather, while implementing reasonable practices and procedures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 among those seeking shelter. My fellow Alabamians, stay vigilant, and stay safe this Easter Sunday.”

Alabama Power crews will continue to work to restore power as quickly and safely as possible, following state and federal public health guidelines for the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Jordan. The company is also asking the public to help maintain a safe social distance of 6 feet from crews and company representatives working in the field.