- Associated Press - Saturday, December 26, 2015

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) - Volunteers are distributing sandbags in the town of Elba, Alabama, as flooding remained a major concern after severe storms battered the state.

James Brown of the Coffee County Emergency Management Agency says volunteers distributed sandbags in Elba, where the Pea River was projected to crest Saturday at 43 feet, about a foot below the levees that protect the area.

Brown says while that height was much too for much comfort, so far the levees were holding.

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“We’re really doing fantastic. We’re happy with the levees,” Brown said.

Emergency officials issued a voluntary evacuation order for the flood-prone community.

About 17 people took safety in a county shelter. Brown said that, according to estimates, more than 100 structures appear to have water damage.

Gov. Robert Bentley will tour the area later in the day.

Alabama Emergency Management Director Art Faulkner said an estimated 200 roads were closed across the state.

Faulkner urged people to use caution. He said emergency responders have had to rescue motorists and a kayaker who ignored warnings to stay away from flooded areas.

“Unfortunately, there have been some people who have not taken heed to the barricades and closed road signs,” Faulkner said.

“We can replace property but we can’t replace citizens,” Faulkner said.

The National Weather Service crews confirmed that a small EF-0 tornado toppled trees and caused minor damage in Coaling in Tuscaloosa County.

Survey crews from the Weather Service were still trying to confirm the suspected twister that destroyed and damaged houses in a working class neighborhood near downtown Birmingham.

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