April 15, 2011 4:13:00 PM
BIRMINGHAM - Strong storms left scattered damage across a wide area of west Alabama on Friday, slamming trees into homes and roads and forcing schools to release thousands of students early as a precaution.
One person was pinned inside a house that was hit by large tree in Sumter County, but emergency crews were having difficulty getting into the community, located near the Mississippi line.
"There are trees down to the point where roads are closed," said Margaret A. Bishop-Gulley, Sumter County''s emergency management director. It wasn''t immediately clear whether the trapped person was injured, she said.
In Marengo County, emergency management director Kevin McKinney said trees were toppled in a rural area southwest of Linden after a possible tornado moved through the county around lunchtime.
"There are some trees on some houses, a roof off a house," he said.
Trees also are blown down in Colbert County, and authorities reported minor street flooding in Lauderdale County.
Storm spotters reported possible tornadoes in four counties.
School systems all over central and west Alabama released students early as a precaution. East of Birmingham, racing promoters monitored conditions at the Talladega Superspeedway, where thousands of people were camping in open fields and getting ready for three days of races.
"It is a dilemma when you have 35,000 people camping on your site," track chairman Grant Lynch told WBRC-TV.
Fans needed to use common sense, officials said.
"Obviously, we don''t have buildings to send people in," Lynch told The Anniston Star. "If that means leaving . that''s at their discretion."
The National Weather Service issued a watch for more than half the state, and tornado warnings were issued as possible twisters moved into Alabama.