Tornado hits Alabama; 9 deaths reported

Rescuers raced Friday to find any survivors trapped in debris after tornadoes barreled across parts of the South in a system that killed at least nine people in Alabama and Georgia and inflicted heavy damage on Selma, a flashpoint of the civil rights movement. A better picture of the damage was expected to emerge later in the day as authorities surveyed the scarred landscape. At least 35 possible tornado touchdowns were reported across several states, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency. The National Weather Service, which was working to confirm the twisters, said suspected tornado damage was reported in at least 14 counties in Alabama and five in Georgia. Tens of thousands of homes and businesses were without power in both states, according to, which tracks outages nationwide. One tornado cut a 20-mile (32-kilometer) path across two rural Alabama communities Thursday before the worst of the weather moved across Georgia on a track south of Atlanta. Searchers in Autauga County found a body after daybreak near a home that had been badly damaged, authorities said. That death brought the toll to seven in the county about 40 miles (64 kilometers) northeast of Selma. At least 12 people were injured severely enough to be taken to hospitals, Ernie Baggett, Autauga County’s emergency management director, said as crews cut through downed trees looking for survivors. He said about 40 homes were destroyed or seriously damaged, including several mobile homes that were launched into the air. “They weren’t just blown over,” he said. ”They were blown a distance.” In Selma, a city etched in the history of the civil rights movement, the city council met on a sidewalk using lights from cellphones and declared a state of emergency. Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp said Friday that a state Department of Transportation worker was killed while responding to storm damage. He gave no further details. Another death occurred in central Georgia’s Butts County, where a