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Reports of serious damage as tornado rips through Alabama university campus

As a tornado warning took effect in Alabama Monday night, reports suggested that Jacksonville State University (JSU) sustained serious damage.
As a tornado warning took effect in Alabama Monday night, reports suggested that Jacksonville State University (JSU) sustained serious damage. (National Weather Service Birmingham)

Severe storms including at least one tornado slammed Alabama’s Jacksonville State University on Monday night, as state troopers said the damage left the city looking like a “war zone.”

Strong winds downed trees and damaged buildings as the National Weather Service (NWS) confirmed a “damaging and possibly large tornado” near Jacksonville and Calhoun Counties, predicted to be moving east into northern Cleburne County.

“Tornado warning in effect! Take this seriously and shelter now!!” NWS Birmingham tweeted.

Jacksonville fire officials said that “many injuries” were reported, an Anniston Star newspaper reporter tweeted.

This photo provided by Johnny Tribble shows a damaged house after a tornado, Tribble said, passed the area in Ardmore, Ala., Monday, March 19, 2018. Severe storms that spawned tornadoes damaged homes and downed trees as they moved across the Southeast on Monday night. (Johnny Tribble via AP)

Severe storms that spawned tornadoes damaged homes and downed trees as they moved across the Southeast on Monday night.  (Johnny Tribble via AP)

Witnesses said the roof of JSU’s Pete Mathews Coliseum suffered heavy damage from the storm.

The school’s athletic director, Greg Seitz, tweeted that there was “extensive damage in Jacksonville,” confirming there was “major roof damage” at the Coliseum — but noted it was “not completely destroyed.”

Troopers have called Jacksonville a “war zone,” Lt. Andy Norris, of the Tuscaloosa County Sheriff’s Office, tweeted. He added the Coliseum’s roof “took major damage” and that additional help was on its way to the area.

Alabama Power said roughly 15,000 customers were without power at of 10 p.m., with 6,000 of those outages reported in Calhoun County.

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