9 out of 10 children killed in Alabama accident 'likely' due to hurricane

9 out of 10 children killed in Alabama accident 'likely' due to hurricane

Tropical Depression Claudette claimed 12 lives in Alabama because the storm swept across the southeastern U.S., causing flash flooding and spurring tornadoes that destroyed dozens of homes.

Ten people, including nine children, were killed Saturday during a 15-vehicle crash about 35 miles (55 kilometers) south of Montgomery on Interstate 65, consistent with Butler County Coroner Wayne Garlock.

He said the vehicles likely hydroplaned on wet roads, with eight children, ages 4 to 17, killed during a van belonging to a youth ranch operated by the Alabama Sheriffs Association for abused or neglected children. a person and a 9-month-old baby died during a separate vehicle. Multiple people were also injured.

Meanwhile, a 24-year-old man and a 3-year-old boy were killed when a tree fell on their house just outside the Tuscaloosa city limits Saturday, Capt. Marty Sellers of the Tuscaloosa Violent Crimes Unit told The Tuscaloosa News.

The deaths occurred as drenching rains pelted northern Alabama and Georgia late Saturday. the maximum amount as 12 inches (30 centimeters) of rain was reported earlier from Claudette along the Mississippi Gulf Coast .

Flash flood watches were posted Sunday for northern Georgia, most of South Carolina, the North Carolina coast and parts of southeast Alabama and therefore the Florida Panhandle. A tropical storm warning was in effect in North Carolina from the small River Inlet to the town of Duck on the Outer Banks. A tropical storm watch was issued from South Santee River, South Carolina, to the small River Inlet, forecasters said.

The eight girls killed within the van were returning to a youth ranch operated by the Alabama Sheriffs Association near Camp Hill, northeast of Montgomery, from every week at the beach in Gulf Shores, youth ranches CEO Michael Smith told The Associated Press. He said the director of the Tallapoosa County ranch survived the crash and was hospitalized in Montgomery. a minimum of one among the dead was a toddler of the director, Smith said.

“This is that the worst tragedy i have been a neighborhood of in my life,” said Smith, who was driving Sunday to Camp Hill to speak to the remaining residents, who had returned from Gulf Shores during a separate van and didn't see the wreck.

“Words cannot explain what I saw,” Smith said of the accident site, which he visited Saturday. “We love these girls like they're our own children.”

Garlock said the situation of the wreck is “notorious" for hydroplaning, because the northbound highway curves down a hill to alittle creek. Traffic thereon stretch of I-65 is typically crammed with vacationers driving to and from Gulf of Mexico beaches on summer weekends.

“Butler County has had one among the foremost terrible traffic accidents," county Sheriff Danny Bond wrote on Facebook, adding: “I believe is that the worst ever in our county."

The Tallapoosa County establishment said counselors would be available Sunday at Reeltown highschool , where a number of the ranch residents were students. Smith said the ranch, which is Christian-based, would likely have a memorial service later, posing for prayers as he began to cry.

Top winds remained near 30 mph (45 kph) on Sunday. National Hurricane Center forecasters predicted Claudette would strengthen back to tropical storm status Monday over eastern North Carolina before heading bent sea within the Atlantic .

More than 20 people were rescued Saturday by boat thanks to flooding in Northport, Alabama, WVUA-TV reported. The Tuscaloosa County Emergency Management Agency tweeted that local Red Cross volunteers were available to assist those that were affected. A shelter was opened in Northport.

The center of Claudette's disorganized circulation was located about 15 miles (20 kilometers) east-northeast of Atlanta on Sunday morning. it had been moving east-northeast at 17 mph (28 kph), the National Hurricane Center said.

Claudette was declared organized enough to qualify as a named tropical storm early Saturday morning, after the storm’s center of circulation had come ashore southwest of latest Orleans.

Shortly after landfall, a suspected tornado spurred by the storm demolished or badly damaged a minimum of 50 homes during a village in Alabama, just north of the Florida border.

Sheriff Heath Jackson in Escambia County said a suspected tornado “pretty much leveled” a manufactured home park, toppled trees onto houses and ripped the roof off of a highschool gym. Most of the damage was wiped out or near the towns of Brewton and East Brewton, about 48 miles (77 kilometers) north of Pensacola, Florida.

“It quite affected everybody,” Jackson said. “But with those mobile homes being built so approximate it can take a toll on them tons quite it can on houses that are spread apart.”

Tornadoes were also reported in southwest Georgia.

Damage from the storm was also felt in north Florida, where winds — in some cases reaching 85 mph (137 kph) — caused an 18-wheeler to flip on its side.

The storm also dumped flooding rains north of Lake Pontchartrain in Louisiana and along the Mississippi coast, inundating streets and, in some areas, pushing water into homes. Later, the storm was drenching the Florida Panhandle and, well inland, a broad expanse of Alabama.

Forecasters said the system could still dump 2 to 4 inches (5 to 10 centimeters) of rain within the region, with isolated accumulations of 8 inches (20 centimeters) possible.

Separately, Tropical Storm Dolores made landfall on Mexico’s West Coast with near-hurricane force. As of Sunday morning, it had dissipated over Mexico. Its remnants had maximum sustained winds of 25 mph (35 kph), and it had been centered about 170 miles (275 kilometers) east of Mazatlan, Mexico.

Heavy rainfall totals up to fifteen inches (38 centimeters) were expected across the southwest and western coastal areas of Mexico throughout the weekend. Forecasters were warning of the potential for flash flooding and mudslides.


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