NWS UPDATE: 6 tornadoes touched down in Central Alabama Thursday

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PICKENS COUNTY, Ala. (WIAT) – Residents of northwest Pickens County are working to clean up their area after finding themselves in the path of two tornadoes on Thursday.

The National Weather Service confirmed a total of six tornadoes touched down in Central Alabama Thursday: two in Pickens County, one in Blount County, and three in Fayette County. One was reported in Morgan County, in North Alabama.

No injuries have been reported, but the lack of broken bones does not mean that there are no things that need to be fixed. Friday, a day after the tornadoes touched down, Pickens County Emergency Services tested a tornado siren that did not go off when the area was in danger.

“No,” said resident George Nickoles. “[I] never heard a tornado siren.”

People in the rural community of Forest, Ala. say that they did not have any form of advanced warning for the tornadoes that came through their neighborhood on Thursday.

“By the time I got out of the shower and went out on the front porch, we saw it back that way and it had pretty much gone right by our house,” said Phyllis Fulgham, a resident of Forest.

Because many in the city did not know what was happening, they had no way of knowing what happened in the storm.

“My gut reaction was my mother might be gone,” Nickoles said. “We don’t know what’s going on with tornadoes.”

Forest Assistant Fire Chief John Wilcox showed CBS 42 News the surveillance video from the fire station on Thursday as the storms passed through the city. Wilcox said that the tornado went right by the station, but the closest siren and two others nearby malfunctioned. The lack of information on the ground led to a hectic situation.

“Pretty scary at the time because you didn’t know what was going on,” Wilcox said. “A black cloud comes up and everybody’s scattering, hearing there’s a tornado on the ground. Our shelter got overwhelmed very quickly.”

After the storm, people are working to fix their damaged property, but thankful that they were not harmed.

“So far so good. Got a little shed damage and a little roof damage, but nothing major,” Nickoles said. “Everybody’s still alive.”

Wilcox is cleaning up a mess of his own.

“I have been talking to our e911 director all day today, back and forth,” Wilcox said. “We’re trying to get that problem resolved for them.”

A dispatcher in Pickens County told CBS 42 News that she didn’t know what went wrong Thursday night – but emergency managers are working to fix those sirens. Wilcox said he wants to change the siren system – so firefighters can set it off manually instead of waiting on e-911.

He’s also applied for a grant for another storm shelter, to make sure that people will have more places to go when severe weather hits.

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Kyrie Wagner

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