BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — Apparent tornadoes destroyed houses, sent people to hospitals and tore up the roof of a maximum security prison in northern Alabama as bad weather threatened more twisters across the region Friday, two days after a storm system killed 13 people in the Midwest and South.
Anxiety mounted from Georgia to southern Ohio across a wide swath where forecasters said severe weather could hit later in the day. Thousands of schoolchildren in several states were sent home as a precaution. Meanwhile, residents in parts of Illinois hit hard by storms earlier in the week salvaged what they could from damaged homes.
In the Huntsville area, at least four people were taken to area hospitals, and several houses were leveled by what authorities believed were tornadoes Friday morning. The extent of the people’s injuries wasn’t immediately known, and emergency crews were continuing to survey damaged areas. WAFF-TV aired video of crushed homes.
An apparent tornado also damaged a state maximum security prison about 10 miles from Huntsville, but no inmates escaped. Alabama Department of Corrections spokesman Brian Corbett said there were no reports of injuries, but the roof was damaged on two large prison dormitories that each hold about 250 men.
“It was reported you could see the sky through the roof of one of them,” Corbette said.
A portion of the prison fence was knocked down, but the prison was secure, he said.
The Limestone Correctional Facility in Capshaw houses more than 2,100 inmates, including more than 200 inmates who have tested positive for HIV and are segregated. The perimeter fence surrounds 90 acres of the prison that opened in 1984. Farming and cattle operations lie elsewhere on the sprawling 1,600-acre grounds owned by the prison, according to state Department of Corrections.