Search and rescue efforts ongoing in Alabama

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APTOPIX Severe Weather Alabama_340968

Gregory Shuford, left, and Terease Shuford keep an eye on flooding in west Montgomery, Ala., on Christmas morning Friday, Dec. 25, 2015. The line of severe storms continued marching eastward Thursday, dumping torrential rain that flooded roads in Alabama and caused a mudslide in the mountains of Georgia. (Mickey Welsh/The Montgomery Advertiser via AP) MANDATORY […]

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP)

The National Weather Service says search and rescue efforts are ongoing in Birmingham, Alabama, where a tornado moved through in the past hour. The service confirms a tornado touched down in southwest Jefferson County about 5 p.m. Friday, moving northeast toward the city of Birmingham.

Meteorologist Jason Holmes said eyewitnesses spotted the funnel and the agency has confirmed its presence. It’s part of the same cell that warranted an earlier tornado warning in Tuscaloosa County, southwest of the Jefferson.

The National Weather Service confirms a tornado touched down in southwest Jefferson County in Alabama at about 5 p.m. Friday, moving northeast toward the city of Birmingham.

Meteorologist Jason Holmes said eyewitnesses spotted the funnel and the agency has confirmed its presence. It’s part of the same cell that warranted an earlier tornado warning in Tuscaloosa County, southwest of the Jefferson.

Details are still sketchy, Holmes said, and nightfall is making it hard for storm spotters to identify tornado activity.

But he said any reports of tornado-like damage in the region will be treated as if it is a tornado.

Holmes said reports of tornado activity in Bibb County, also southwest of Birmingham, have not been confirmed. But the agency is warning resident there and in neighboring Chilton County to take cover.

Some Mississippi residents spent their Christmas giving rather than receiving this year.

The American Red Cross of North Mississippi’s disaster program manager, Nicholas Garbacz (GAR-bach), says members of the Marine Corps helped turn the Eddie Smith Multi-Purpose Center in Holly Springs into a substitute Santa’s Workshop.

The marines donated bundles of toys for those who lost everything – including presents under their Christmas trees – during this week’s killer storms

Garbacz says dozens of children and their families showed up Friday morning to pick up a toy or two and other items they might need to help on their path to recovery. He says it was a wonderful experience for those giving and for those getting.

Steve Swann, the agency’s logistic head, told WMC-TV (http://bit.ly/1kjOSMr) that he and his wife, Audrey, helped with the giveaway.

Van Rayford, who’s now in a hotel with his kids and six of his grandchildren, says he’s thankful the Swanns and others sacrificed their Christmas so that his family could have one.

A flash flood watch has been issued for parts of Tennessee following storms that have pounded the Southeast this week.

Meteorologist Krissy Hurley with the National Weather Service in Nashville says a flash flood watch is in effect for parts of southeastern, central and eastern Tennessee until Saturday morning.

In neighboring Kentucky, the National Weather Service in Louisville says a flash flood watch has been issued for central and eastern parts of the state through midafternoon.

The unseasonably warm weather that spawned deadly tornadoes on Wednesday killed six people in Tennessee. Seven people died in Mississippi and one person was killed in Arkansas.

Parts of central and north Alabama and northwest Georgia are spending Christmas on the lookout for more heavy rain and flooding.

Heavy rain already is falling in areas stretching across Alabama, from the Mississippi state line west of Tuscaloosa to the Georgia state line east of Anniston.

The National Weather Service has issued a flash flood warning for three counties.

Tornadoes are possible in parts of Alabama north of the I-20 corridor, with other damaging winds of up to 60 mph possible.

Northwest Georgia also continues to receive heavy rain, with flash flood warnings issued.

Residents are advised to stay off the roads. Drivers who do encounter flooded roads are warned to turn around, as authorities say most flood deaths occur in vehicles.

Authorities say three of the six people killed in storms that rolled across Tennessee were found in a submerged car.

The Columbia Police Department said in a news release that the bodies of three people were found in a car submerged in a Maury County creek Thursday afternoon.

The names of the victims have not been released, but the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency said the deceased are a 19-year-old female and two 22-year-old males. The agency says the deaths were weather-related.

The unseasonably warm, severe weather also was responsible for seven deaths in Mississippi and one in Arkansas.

Some survivors of deadly storms across the Southeast lost their homes and belongings, but say they’re thankful to see another Christmas.

Residents of the hardest-hit communities were forced to take stock of their losses Thursday after unseasonably severe weather spawned tornadoes and killed at least 14 people in Mississippi, Tennessee and Arkansas.

Barbara Perkins and her husband hunkered in a closet of their home in Falkner, Mississippi, when powerful winds peeled the roof off and sucked up a heavy air conditioning unit. An insurance agent told the couple Thursday their home was a total loss.

Perkins’ neighbors weren’t as fortunate. Two died in a home nearby.

Despite being newly homeless, Perkins said the tragedy helped her “stop and realize what Christmas is all about.”

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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