A heavy storm roared through Phenix City and Columbus early today, trapping two people in their home and causing damage to trees and structures in the Lakebottom area and elsewhere.
What appeared to be a funnel cloud was visible in Russell County from downtown Columbus around 11:45 p.m. Sunday. Less than 30 minutes later, two residents of an apartment complex near Wildwood Avenue and 14th Street were trapped inside their home when a tree fell through the building’s back, said Terry Herring with Columbus Fire and EMS.
“Everybody’s OK,” Herring said.
Much of the damage appeared to be in the Lakebottom area. A path of destruction wove from Lakebottom park near Columbus High School to the Preston Drive area.
Trees and power lines were on the roads. Plastic coverings on the Muscogee County School District’s new building on Macon Road and debris was thrown across the road.
Trees were down on the St. Luke Church and School campus at Veterans Parkway and 11th Street. The Hardaway building, across from the RiverCenter, had significant damage to its northside. Windows were blown out and there was much debris at the corner of Broadway and 10th Street.
The Rankin building was also hit. Air-conditioning units were blown off of the building onto First Avenue. Students in the building at the time were moved into the hallway.
"The ceiling tiles started lifting," said Andrew Hendley, 22, Fayetteville, Ga. "Then it got dusty in the hall."
Columbus Police Capt. J.D. Hawk said roofs were hit by the storm, but that nothing appeared to have been ripped off. He added that a box truck at the corner of 13th Street and 13th Avenue had been lifted and put back down.
"We've had no report of injuries," Hawk said.
Traffic lights were down on Broad Street in downtown Phenix City. A police officer at the corner of Broad and 13th Street watched traffic, ensuring no one got into an accident.
Trees and debris was scattered across Front Avenue near the Dillingham Street bridge. In front of McCarley Transmission Service, just across the bridge on the Alabama side, debris hung from power lines and some street lights were bent.
Alabama Power spokeswoman Linda Brannon said at 12:25 a.m. that 6,300 customers were without power in the company's service territory, more than half (3,300) in the Russell County area. About 1,100 of those were in the Seale area and the remainder in Phenix City. No outages were reported in the Auburn area, she said.
The peak of the outages were from 11:15 p.m. to 11:45 p.m., Brannon said.
Crews still were assessing damage, so beyond general descriptions of trees falling on power lines, she didn¹t know the extent and couldn¹t estimate when power should be restored.