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Bentley: high death toll not because residents weren't prepared

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Eclectic in Elmore County Eclectic in Elmore County
MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) -

In a news conference Thursday morning Gov. Robert Bentley said the high death toll  in Alabama from Wednesday's storms had nothing to with a lack of preparedness or public response.

But there's no way to prepare for a mile-wide tornado hitting a densely populated place, like Tuscaloosa, he said.

Tuscaloosa Mayor Walt Maddox said Thursday morning that 32 people in his city died in Wednesday's storm, which would bring the total number of deaths in Alabama to 145.

The Alabama Emergency Management Agency lists its official number of dead at 131, but its figures must be confirmed by country coroners or medical doctors. The total is expected to climb higher.

The Governor said his children and grandchildren in Tuscaloosa were safe. Bentley, who is a physician, is an administrator at Tuscaloosa's Druid City Hospital and said the hospital had plenty of resources to handle the injured. It suffered minor damage in the storm.

The Governor said hundreds of thousands of people in the state were still without power. Alabama Power Spokeswoman Jan Ellis said Thursday morning that about 350,000 were without power and that figure was down from more than a half-million.

Bentley said TVA was shutting down the nuclear reactor at Brown's Ferry in north Alabama to make sure everything is OK.

FEMA officials will tour the state today to assess the damage and FEMA will act in a supporting role, said FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate. The agency will supply additional resources as needed. Fugate said Alabama officials were completely in charge of the effort.

The Governor has deployed about 2,000 National Guardsmen to assist in search and rescue. The state Emergency Management Agency is using air assets from the Alabama National Guard, the Department of Public Safety and the Civil Air Patrol to assist those efforts.

ELMORE COUNTY

The official death total in Eclectic is now at five. Myers Trailer Park was hit hard last night and four were confirmed dead there before midnight. The park is near Middle Road and at least seven more were injured.

The Elmore County EMA said the heaviest damage was west of Santuck in the Dexter Eclectic, Kowaliga area and Windemere Community. The Elmore County High School gym in Eclectic is open for those seeking shelter.

Dadeville saw several homes and businesses destroyed. A Reeltown firefighter confirmed multiple reports of injuries but no word yet on fatalities. People in the Pacer's Point area near the lake had to be evacuated by boat last night. The Lake Martin area suffered significant damage.

The librarian at the White Hall library in Lowndes County says the roof to the public library has been ripped off the building.

Here is a list of fatalities by county that was released early Thursday by the Alabama EMA

  • DeKalb-30
  • Marshall-5
  • St. Clair-2
  • Calhoun- 4
  • Tuscaloosa-15
  • Fayette-2
  • Franklin-18
  • Jackson-4
  • Cullman-2
  • Marion-3
  • Bibb-1
  • Lawrence-9
  • Hale-4
  • Jefferson-11
  • Elmore-5
  • Walker-13

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