Local man safe after being just miles away from deadly Alabama tornado

A day after at least 23 people were killed as a tornado ripped through Lee County, Alabama, a local man is thankful to be safe after being just minutes away of the devastating damage.

“We’re blessed to have been that close to it and to not have been affected in any way,” said Nick Wiget, a Wilmington native who was travelling in Alabama with a local university’s baseball team.  “Your stomach kind of sinks a little bit, because you’re like wow we were that close to something that terrible and that dangerous.”

Explore>> Alabama tornado: At least 23 dead after EF-4 tornado rips through Lee County

Wiget was at Auburn University for the University of Cincinnati’s baseball series with the Auburn Tigers.

“It was shocking to say the least that we were in that area,” he said.  “No sirens went off in the area, at least none that we heard.”

Authorities have given a tornado that ripped through miles of Lee County Sunday, a preliminary EF-4 ranking, according to the National Weather Service. The storm left behind a widespread trail of damage and destruction, although officials warned the number of deaths was expected to rise as authorities assess damage.

More than 40 people were injured in what weather experts are calling an “outbreak of tornadoes” that ripped through parts of Alabama, Georgia and Florida.

“This was the deadliest tornado in the United States since the Moore, Oklahoma, tornado in 2013,” Chris Darden, the meteorologist-in-charge of the National Weather Service's Birmingham field office, said Monday at a news conference.

Wiget said he started receiving alerts on his phone for tornado warnings Sunday afternoon, but then saw an alert he had never seen.

“I got an indication on my phone, or an alert that said tornado emergency, which I had never seen before,” he said.  “It said the threat was imminent.”

Officials estimated tornado wind speeds were around 170 mph, Darden said.

Wiget said he started realizing the severity of the situation after he got messages from people back home in Ohio.

“We started getting messages from our families back home and other folks we know that were concerned about us asking if we were OK.”

About the Author