A probable tornado ripped through a Wal-Mart and Hibbett Sports in Troy, Alabama, late Thursday night per NBC News. The Weather Channel tweeted the following photo of damage sustained to the Wal-Mart.
In the photo, roof supports have collapsed and boxes, display racks, and merchandise are strewn about. Near the center of the photo, a bright white and blue “Low Price” sign litters the floor in front of a pop of pink shelving filled with colorful items that seem ready for purchase and out of place in the debris clutter.
At least five people were injured and trucks and tractor-trailers were overturned in the parking lot due to the suspected tornado. There were no reports of serious injuries, though three people were taken to a local hospital.
“What seemed to be a tornado-like storm damaged the Wal-Mart in Troy structurally,” Mayor Jason Reeves told NBC News. “It flipped multiple trucks and tractor trailers in the parking lot, and damaged a strip-mall structure near the Wal-Mart. There is also water damage in the area from damage to a water main.”
“I was looking for somewhere to go,” said Eric Bagents of Rutledge, Alabama.
Bagents was browsing through the Wal-Mart electronics department when the described tornado hit.
“I just got low,” he added. “I was heading to the bathroom because it’s walled up, but I stopped before I realized that’s what I needed to do.”
Sarah Brookins is an employee of the devastated Wal-Mart, located on U.S. 231 South. Bookins told the Troy Messenger that the sudden possible tornado “caught everyone by surprise.”
“We heard a loud noise,” Brookins said. “All of a sudden the wind was blowing in the store. We saw dust blowing through the door.”
Brookins described the event further. The storm struck the home and pharmacy departments. Next, the opposite end of the building took damage from what was thought to be a tornado.
A great deal of damage was sustained by the Wal-Mart store and Hibbett Sports store within the accompanying strip mall. There was some minor damage to the Flash Market located across U.S. 231. Debris was scattered throughout the parking lots and surrounding grounds.
“I was outside the door,” said Lamont Jackson, another Troy Wal-Mart employee who was early for his 11 p.m. shift. “I was texting on my phone. It struck and the wind started blowing (so) I got into the store. I was holding onto the carts. I was standing there up against the wall.”
Witnesses believe it is likely a tornado hit the stores around 10:40 p.m. Shortly after, at 10:32 p.m. (11:32 p.m. ET), the National Weather Service warned of possible flash flooding and “frequent cloud to ground lightning” for Pike County.
Troy Police Chief Jimmy Ennis reported only “walking injuries” from the storm.
Pike County EMA Director Jeanna Barnes said the National Weather Service would “have a team on the scene at sunrise” to see if a tornado can be confirmed, and a “preliminary report on the storm could be available by noon Friday.”
Just four months prior, a sudden and undefined storm with 70 mph winds caused at least three deaths during a regatta off the coast of Mobile in May as previously reported by the Inquisitr.
Mayor Reeves also told the Troy Messenger that he was “thankful” no one was seriously injured during Thursday’s wind event.
“We’re just extremely blessed,” said the Troy mayor in his statement following the possible tornado. “You’ve seen the damage inside Wal-Mart so there is a great deal to do here at Hibbett’s and the surrounding area… We were very fortunate that at another point in time this store and parking lot could have been completely filled with people. We are very blessed that it was not much much worse.”
[Photo by NOAA Photo Library/Getty Images]