JACKSONVILLE — A Thursday morning storm cut power to about 4,000 customers in Calhoun County as straight-line winds knocked trees onto power lines and houses.
By 4 p.m. Thursday, 370 Alabama Power customers in Jacksonville and 320 in surrounding portions of the county remained without power, according to company spokeswoman Jacki-Lyn Thacker. Thacker said power was expected to be restored to those remaining customers by 6 p.m.
Jacksonville first responders, officials and workers flocked to areas of the city where damage reports were flooding into 911.
Mountain Street Northwest was shut down from Alabama 21 to Park Avenue Northwest near the Chief Ladiga Trail.
Scenes from Mountain Street in Jacksonville pic.twitter.com/VFc0xTN2zo— Kirsten Fiscus (@KFiscus_Star) March 1, 2018
A tree has fallen on at least one apartment at Stadium Apartments on Mountain Street pic.twitter.com/o3ZzSWBdi8— Kirsten Fiscus (@KFiscus_Star) March 1, 2018
Jacksonville State University student Brandon Phillips said he’d just arrived back at the house he rents at the corner of Mountain Street and Gadsden Road Northwest when the storm passed through.
Phillips said the nearly 50 mph straight-line winds roared down Mountain Street.
“I was just sitting in the living room hanging out with my roommate when it got really loud outside,” Phillips said. “It was probably dumb, but that’s when my roommate and I went outside to see it was pouring and the wind was crazy.”
Phillips recorded the downpour from the front porch as it moved through the area.
“That’s when our mailbox was murdered,” he said.
On the video Phillips uploaded to Twitter, a piece of white-and-red metal roofing passes the house and tumbles across the front yard, knocking the mailbox to the ground before continuing across the road in front of a white pickup truck.
“In high school, straight-line winds ripped the scoreboard out of the ground at the football field, but I’ve never seen damage like this from a storm in person,” Phillips said.
The power outage darkened storefronts and restaurants in Jacksonville as well as some buildings on JSU’s campus.
Buffy Lockette, spokeswoman for JSU, said power was restored to those buildings hours after the storm. Lockette said there were no reports of building damage on campus. University police investigated reports of cars damaged in the Stephenson Hall parking lot.
“And police are saying there are trees down at fraternity row, and a gate is down at the Marching Southerners practice field,” Lockette said.
A gable roof was ripped from a warehouse on Thomas Avenue in Jacksonville. After the storm, the metal roofing panels were wrapped around tree limbs and blanketed the fronts of five houses, pulling down power lines and covering a car.
“I think this is some of the worst damage I’ve seen,” said Mark Williams, the city’s building inspector, as he surveyed Thomas Avenue. “Thank God no one was injured in any of this.”
Weaver Mayor Wayne Willis said Thursday afternoon that there wasn’t much damage inside his city’s limits.
“But in the jurisdiction there was quite a bit of damage,” he said.
Trees blocked roads near Weaver High School and one fell on a house, the mayor said.
“I’ve not heard of any injuries from the damage,” Willis said.
Mary Keiser, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service office in Calera, said the storm front would bring cooler weather. Keiser said the National Weather Service might issue a frost advisory for the weekend.
“Some places could hit freezing,” she said. “Anyone with vegetation that’s already started growing should tend to those.”
Temperatures will then steadily increase moving into next week, Keiser said.
“We don’t have any rain chances until Monday,” she said.
Staff Writer Patrick McCreless provided additional reporting.