A tornado killed at least three people when it slammed into northeastern Alabama early Wednesday, authorities said.
Three other people were also critically injured after a day care center was “completely destroyed” in Ider in DeKalb County, according to the National Weather Service and local sheriff’s office.
Officials initially described it as a “24-hour day care” but later confirmed that it was not open when the storm hit. Its operators, who live in a nearby mobile home, sought shelter from the weather in the building. Three adults and three children from that family were later transported to hospital, DeKalb County Emergency Management director Anthony Clifton said. The three adults were listed in critical condition.
Ider Christian Daycare Academy also wiped out completely pic.twitter.com/RwiZrk1oYc— Jake Berent WAFF (@JakeBerent) November 30, 2016
At least 25 homes and 6 poultry operations were destroyed across DeKalb County, Clifton added.
The three fatalities were reported near Highway 71 in Rosalie, Alabama, which is located in neighboring Jackson County, the National Weather Services said.
All three victims died in one home, Jackson County Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy Rocky Harnen told NBC News.
A baptist church and a plaza were among the 15 to 20 buildings in Rosalie that were destroyed just after midnight local time (1 a.m. ET), he added.
Video from Rosalie Plaza (2/3) pic.twitter.com/7nnxbu1p9G— Jake Berent WAFF (@JakeBerent) November 30, 2016
A roof was also blown off a motel in Guin, Alabama.
Electricity lines and trees were downed throughout the area. As of 4 a.m. ET, Alabama Power reported that 3,500 customers were suffering outages, including a small number in the Birmingham area.
There were also “multiple areas with damage” in Colbert County in the northwest of Alabama, a local police official told NBC News.
At 4:15 a.m. ET, Harnen warned that Jackson County was “bracing for another line of storms that should be hitting us at any moment” and advised people to stay out of the area to allow first responders to get to the injured.
A tornado watch has been issued for parts of Alabama, Georgia and Tennessee until 10 AM CST pic.twitter.com/pBbcrMjtjU— NWS Tornado (@NWStornado) November 30, 2016
By 4:30 a.m. ET, there was an active tornado warning for northeastern Alabama in Marshall, Cullman and Morgan counties — all between Huntsville and Birmingham, according to Kevin Roth, a senior meteorologist at The Weather Channel.
Communities in northeastern Alabama, northwestern Georgia and southeastern Tennessee were especially vulnerable to tornadoes until around 9 a.m. ET, he added.
The band of storms stretched from the coast of Louisiana, across Mississippi and Alabama and into Georgia.