Monday, May 12, 2008

A story from tornado-damaged south Cullman County

This is a story shared with me by Melba Pierce, a reader of
and resident of the area damaged early Sunday
morning during what I will
call the "Mother's Day Tornado".

I & my family will always be thankful for all that you (James Spann) &
your team does to keep our communities as safe as possible. In my heart
James, I felt like you were trying to tell me from your live TV coverage,
"Melba" I'm talking to you prepared & go to a safe place....
I know you weren't singling me out per se, but all the same, I want to
somehow convey how much your warnings help........

I knew from everything I was reading last week & seeing outside ALL day
Saturday afternoon, that the atmosphere was being primed for exactly
what it was like April 16, 1998 in which a tornado came across our
mountain here in Arkadelphia & took off my screened in back porch!

The tornado that came through yesterday morning around 12:30 AM, did do
damage to my home (roof) & property mainly..., but it is structurally
sound & we were very blessed...considering it was actually on the ground
just above my house between 1/4 & 1/2 mile away. It destroyed many
trees & completely twisted off a new radio tower recently installed for
the fire departments & emergency officials to be able to communicate
with each other throughout the county on the same radio frequency....
It then moved moving down the mountain crossing CR 8 & devastated the
Colony community about 5 miles up the road.

I only saw what the tornado damage did on CR 34 (which is where I live),
CR 35, CR 8, & Hwy. 91. I was told by some friends that went on the
back county roads(CR) in Colony, that it was even worse there. They
said there were homes actually leveled.

This time 10 years later, my oldest son, daughter in-law & 2 grandkids
(4 & 1) were at my house for the weekend for (mother's day) along with
my youngest son (16) & husband. We all got into our smallest bathroom.
I put my daughter in-law & 2 babies in the tub. There were 7 of us
crammed into a bathroom meant for 2 people at the most. I know God was
hearing prayers. I handled the crisis fine then, but today, I have
tears of joy & relief, but for some reason I also have tears of sadness
too. That part I can't explain....

The lightning was so intense, it struck a large pecan tree in my aunt's
yard about 3 hundred yards up the road, traveled down the tree through
the roots and ruptured our 6 inch water main that runs under our road.
So that left everyone on our road without water until late yesterday
afternoon. The power was out because the tornado that touched down a
little further up which is where it took out power poles & lines. They
reset them late yesterday & we got power back then. I can't even begin
to describe how intense that storm was. We were filling our pool with
water Saturday afternoon getting it ready for the summer. We turned the
water off before going in for the night with the water level a little
over 4 inches from the bottom of the skimmer. We have a 24 foot round
above ground pool. Yesterday morning, when we went outside to find out
exactly what all the damage was, I was shocked to see water spilling out
of the skimmer. That means we must have gotten at least 4 inches of
rain on the mountain in Arkadelphia. I expected maybe 1-2 inches at the
most & then having finish filling it up.

I did thank God on my way to work this morning as I was driving up Hwy.
91 through Colony (as I work in Hanceville.) Just seeing all the damage
that the tornado caused, it just causes you to relive in your head over
& over what you were feeling as it was coming toward my home.... but
with God's grace, he blessed my home by not destroying it... I'm
thankful for having a family to love, to be loved by, & keeping us safe.
When you hear a tornado coming & know that there is absolutely nothing
you can do about it, that is when you know, that you know, that you
know........there is a God.

Later she added:

It was a very frightening feeling. This is the 2nd time I've gone through
a tornado since living there. I listened to reports via the radio after the
tornado came through all night too. My husband & youngest son made
sure our home was secure enough...then left to go help the fire department
cut trees out of the roads. They didn't come home until after 4 AM
yesterday morning. I knew you were out there & I heard James mention
your name a couple of times relaying information. I had no way of
contacting them or you to let anyone know what had happened in our
area. I did get on-line last night for a few minutes trying to check the
blog to see what all was going on around us when it happened, but I
only have dial-up at home & that is the pits....

I borrowed my daughter in-law's camera yesterday to take pictures
of the damage to my house & property. She is supposed to download
them & email them to me. (Ironically, they knew I didn't have a digital
camera & wouldn't breakdown to buy one, so that is what they gave
me for Mother's Day...only I didn't know it until last night after I came
in from cleaning up. They had left early yesterday to go home since we
didn't have water or power (with 2 small children) & to make sure their
home in Madison was ok since they had tornado warnings there too.
My husband & I had gone to Lowes for tarps & weren't home before they
left. I felt so bad not having a chance to thank them for it.
Surprisingly, if you look at the front of my house, you wouldn't thing there
was a thing wrong with my home...other than the white picket fence
around the front yard...that is missing some pickets now....until you walk
around to the backyard. The back of my house faces the SW....hence it
takes a lot of high winds....from storms. If you havent been on the CR's
I mentioned in my earlier email, then you should check them out. Colony
was hit very bad.

Anyway..........You are right....I know God was looking out for us. We
heard the tornado as it came was lowering (obviously), since it hit
just up at the end of CR 34. All the debris that was flying around outside,
busting my privacy fence up out back & ripping roofing off, I feel so blessed
that God didn't let it set down on top of us...... I just couldn't live with myself
if my family had died just because they had come home to be with me for
Mother's Day.......and something had hurt or killed them just
me...... it's a mom/Grammy thing........


Dewdrop said...

Very touching story and first hand account.

Anonymous said...

Amazing! Thanks for sharing that one. Well worth the read...

Mike Wilhelm said...

Yes it was. This storm has been very under-reported in the news, probably because of the area that was hit. To me, though, if this affects a few people this badly, it is VERY important and significant.

Mike Wilhelm said...

Stephen, you are welcome. I really appreciate Melba sharing this! Maybe she can get us some pictures.