ABBEVILLE, Ala. – Gov. Don Siegelman declared this small town a disaster area Wednesday, a day after storms and a tornado swept through southern Alabama, killing at least one person and injuring 25.
The tornado damaged the high school's gymnasium and several nearby homes. Schools were ordered closed for the rest of the week in Abbeville, about 80 miles southeast of Montgomery.
Siegelman said he would send members of the Alabama National Guard to help local police as residents began surveying the damage and picking up the pieces.
Wheeler Richards, 54, of Hopkins, S.C., died when a tree toppled onto the home of his sister, whom he was visiting. On Wednesday, tearful relatives surveyed the damage and consoled one another.
Less than a mile away, Rebecca Butler stood over a 50-foot deep gully littered with the debris of her sister's doublewide mobile home.
"God was with them. Everybody got out. Some were hurt, but they were alive," Butler said. "Firefighters heard them screaming and helped them out."
It was not immediately clear whether any of the injured remained hospitalized Wednesday.