Athens families homeless after Monday night storms

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ATHENS, Ala. (WHNT) - The severe storms Monday night left a number of families in the Athens area homeless. A tree fell on an apartment building just off Clinton Street as the first round of storms moved through the area. Tuesday morning, city officials inspected the building and declared it unsafe.

Utility crews worked throughout the night in Athens and Limestone County restoring power to homes and businesses. As many as 10,000 customers were without electricity at one point. Downed trees were responsible for most of the damage. Those crews remained on the job Tuesday night.

Flooding was an issue in several areas, including a vacant lot at Market and Elm Streets. The owner says there's a drainage issue. City officials say they're aware of it and plan to fix it.

It'll take a lot of work to fix the house near the intersection of Lindsey Lane and Nick Davis Road. Two huge trees crashed onto the home. There was a teenager home at the time, but he was in another part of the house and uninjured.

"I saw the whole thing. It was like, and the wind was coming towards the car," says Jarkita Malone. She and a cousin were trapped outside Monday afternoon when severe thunderstorm winds slammed into Athens.

Victoria Arnold, along with the other residents of an apartment complex on Clinton Street, were busy today gathering up what they could carry. The building was condemned by city officials after a tree crashed through it. Arnold's husband had just walked through the door when it happened.

"He had just closed the door and I started to walk off towards my kitchen and I was midway to the kitchen and the dining room and heard boom," Arnold said.

When he reopened the door, there was the tree. Residents said they had no warning.

"We didn't get any warnings, no sirens, no nothing," Deborah Yarbrough told WHNT News 19. They didn't go off." She said she heard the sirens tested earlier in the day. "Yes, I heard them yesterday morning when they tested them, I heard them later on last night. But yesterday when this hit, we had no warning."

Arnold says residents were rushed to gather what belongings they could carry and forced to vacate the condemned building. "And everything I own is inside that house," she said.

And with their building condemned now, the residents tell us they face an uncertain future. They don't know what to do next, and for that matter, most of them tell us they don't know where they will live.

By the way, we checked and confirmed there was no tornado warning with that first thunderstorm that came through, so the sirens were not set off.

A spokesperson for Athens Utilities says some 500 customers were still without power tonight as of late Tuesday afternoon. Crews are working to get all of the service restored as quickly as they can.