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Loss of namesake bar and grill hits tiny Alabama community

In this photo provided by Jennifer Cassity, storm damage to the Faunsdale Bar and Grill, a popular spot in Faunsdale, Ala., is shown on Thursday, March 31, 2022. Located in an old building in a once-thriving town, the business was hit by a storm that moved through rural west Alabama. The loss of the well-known entertainment venue was a blow to the community of less than 100 people. (Jennifer Cassity via AP)

FAUNSDALE, Ala. (AP) — With fewer than 100 residents and only a handful of buildings, this west Alabama community doesn't have much aside from an old water tower and the namesake Faunsdale Bar and Grill, which lures visitors and locals alike with live music, crawfish boils and good times.

It's unclear what might happen next now that a possible tornado has wiped out the bar.

The Faunsdale Music Festival, a community fundraiser set for Saturday at the venue, had to be postponed because of damage which included a missing roof, bricks flung around like toy balls and overturned tables. Robert McKee, chair of a foundation that promotes the community, told WBRC-TV he was saddened to see the damage but hopeful the town can come back.

“With 98 people it’s definitely a tight-knit community. Everybody knows everybody. We’re all having to step up and clean up and look forward to the next chapter. We just have to find out where that is and how to get there but we’re going that way,” McKee said.

The National Weather Service has yet to determine whether a twister or straight-line winds hit Faunsdale, but forecasters have determined at least 11 tornadoes touched down in the state on Wednesday.

Located in Marengo County about 80 miles (129 kilometers) west of Montgomery, Faunsdale was a thriving town in the heart of the state's cotton belt in the 1800s. It had two cotton gins, a cotton seed mill, five stores, a bank, a drug store and more, according to the Faunsdale Foundation.

All that's left now are homes and a few businesses inside shells of old red-brick buildings. One of them housed the Faunsdale Bar and Grill, a popular stop for University of Alabama football fans headed to Tuscaloosa from south Alabama.

Jennifer Cassity, who worked at the bar for more than two decades before buying it seven years ago, said other spots in town also were damaged, including the post office and a feed store.

“It wasn’t just me, it was all of us," she said in an interview Friday.

But the bar and grill WAS the town to people passing through. Cassity said it's unclear whether it can be repaired or will have to be rebuilt completely.

“It’s like a loss in the family. In the community, every knows it. You say ‘Faunsdale,’ and everyone says, ‘the bar and grill,’” she said.

The Associated Press