Tornadoes Beat Up on the South
HeartLand correspondents tell their stories
On April 27, many tornadoes slammed through the southeastern United States, affecting large portions of the heartland area. Jesse Cox, owner of Smithville Marina, was killed when the tornado went through Smithville, Miss.
The Smithville Marina advertises in Quimby's Cruising Guide, and we have worked with members of the family, so the news hit hard.
Also, Helen Stewart, owner of Eagle Cove Marina on the Black Warrior River, called to say that Eagle Cove had been completely destroyed by tornadoes. HLB profiled Eagle Cover Marina in May of 2005.
Contributor Joanne Cunningham Walker of Dadeville, Ala., writes that "About 6:45 Wednesday morning April 27, a tornado slammed into two docks at Alred Marina, Guntersville, Ala.
"On one dock, it picked up the walkway and roof and dumped them on top of the boats. Roof and supports on the walkway to another, outermost dock, were destroyed. This long dock itself was partially torn loose, shoved 45 degrees from its original position, heavily damaged and metal roof peeled away although, miraculously no major damage to boats on this dock."
Pictures of what she's talking about:
Photos by Joanne Cunningham Walker
Walker went on to say that "Several boats floated away from the dock. The rest of the docks sustained no major damage."
Amazingly, no boaters were hurt badly, although many were on board their boats. Speaking personally, Walker said that she and her husband, Bill, their house and boat, all got through intact, "but it was hairy."
In Cullman, Ala., where Elliot Free heads an insurance agency, he said the agency has been entirely devoted to coordinating records of client losses since the disaster hit. Downtown Cullman was totally destroyed, he said, with only three buildings left. One of them was the building housing their offices. Two people were killed in his northeast Alabama county, but no one was killed in town.
"The major tornado came about 4 p.m.," he said. "The tornado stayed on the ground for 38 miles, which let it do some damage. Where it hit, it's pretty much total destruction.
"The three of us got into the middle office when the weather newsman said to take cover," Free said. "There was a loud crashing noise in front, the building shook, and the power went out. It was deathly silent. Turned out, the storm blew out one window. We were amazed at the amount of glass."
When they picked their way out of the damaged, but still-standing building, they found damage all around with some buildings simply gone. The tornado picked up one truck and deposited it in the middle of a building. Trees laid uprooted facing every direction, and one house had been turned 45 degrees on its foundation.
Free said that 58 separate tornadoes hit Alabama the same day, and the loss of TVA electrical lines meant power was out for eight days. The TVA had never experienced that level of destruction previously. He said that surprisingly, the local boat dock sustained little damage with little marine damage overall in the county.
If readers wish to donate funds to help the people suffering as a result of the tornadoes, Walker suggested the Red Cross first, then looking on the Internet for lists of agencies.(Although please be aware of possible scams, sadly.)
"People have been wonderful about giving and volunteering," Walker said.