Suspected tornado: 1 hurt, businesses flattened in Alabama
NEW ORLEANS — A suspected tornado near Birmingham, Alabama, flattened businesses and injured one person Thursday, while the mayor of a coastal Louisiana town urged residents to evacuate ahead of a rising tide — two lingering effects of a weakening Tropical Depression Cindy that was fueling harsh weather across the Southeast.
A liquor store and a fast-food restaurant were among the damaged businesses in Fairfield, Alabama, west of Birmingham, said meteorologist Jason Holmes of the National Weather Service. Dean Argo, a spokesman for the Alabama Alcoholic Beverage Control Board said one employee of the liquor store was hurt.
Holmes also told The Associated Press that trees were down and buildings were reported damaged along the Interstate 20 corridor on the western outskirts of Birmingham, Alabama’s most populous city. The weather service had issued tornado warnings earlier for the Birmingham and Tuscaloosa areas, and Gov. Kay Ivey had urged state residents to be alert for dangerous weather.
Meanwhile, the Gulf Coast was still suffering the effects of Cindy, a former tropical storm that crawled ashore from the Gulf of Mexico early Thursday near the Louisiana-Texas state line. Downgraded to a tropical depression, Cindy was weakening as it headed north through Louisiana toward Arkansas but a broad circulation around the system swept moist Gulf air over the South, fueling bands of strong weather and pushing up coastal tides.
In the low-lying Louisiana town of Lafitte, south of New Orleans, Mayor Tim Kerner urged residents in and around the town to seek higher ground because of rising water.
“The tide’s rolling in. It’s getting to a dangerous level,” Kerner said. Streets and yards in the town were covered and Kerner worried that homes, even those in parts of town protected by levees, might be flooded. “I’m hoping not,” he added.