Presumed twister strikes early

Published 11:18 am Monday, January 23, 2012

Maplesville residents survey the damage downtown after the Jan. 23 tornado.

Chilton County was greeted to a rude awakening Monday morning as severe weather rolled through before daybreak.

The hardest hit areas were in Maplesville as well as the Enterprise and Lomax communities.

Homeowners near Alabama 22 and Chilton County 37 survey storm damage Monday morning.

While the storms did widespread damage, there has yet to be any serious injuries reported, according to local law enforcement officials.

Maplesville suffered the brunt of the storm, which damaged roofs and mobile homes and knocked down trees and power lines.

Damage to a mobile home and camper off Chilton County 10 in Maplesville.

The damage happened around 5:30 a.m., while Chilton County was under a tornado warning.

Some of the worst damage in Maplesville happened near the intersection of U.S. 82 and Chilton County 10. The presumed tornado tracked along Highway 10 and then up Alabama 139, where it blew out several downtown store front windows and damaged roofs.

The storms continued along Alabama 139 toward Maplesville High School, which was not damaged.

Courtney Smith rode out the storm in a basement bathtub in her family’s home along U.S. 82.

‘The wind started getting bad and the house started shaking,” said Smith, who at first thought the noise was thunder. “(But) it kept getting louder and louder. It sounded like it was pulling the roof off the house.”

Courtney Smith stands in front of her family's destroyed poolhouse. The Smiths live along U.S. 82 near County Road 10.

Smith’s house sustained roof and garage damage, and a poolroom outside was destroyed.

She said she was shaken by the storms, but that things could have been much worse.

“I think a lot of us are really blessed,” Smith said.

The home of Elzie and Gertie Sanders off Enterprise Road was pushed back off its foundation.

About 10 homes were damaged near Enterprise, at the intersection of Enterprise Road and County Road 24 just outside Verbena.

Elzie and Gertie Sanders had only been in their home for about a week. Their insurance company was paying for them to rent the house because their home just down the road had burned on New Year’s Day because of an electrical wiring malfunction.

“Everything we’ve had for 45 years…we lost everything,” Gertie Sanders said. “We had really just started moving in here.”

The couple will be on the move again after an apparent tornado early Monday morning moved the house they were living in off its foundation. Walls split, and the roof caved in in several areas.

But the couple was uninjured. When warnings were first issued, they took cover in the basement of Pleasant Valley Baptist Church.

They thought the danger had passed, left the church and stopped by their son’s home nearby. That’s when he checked the weather and suggested they all go back to the shelter.

“We could feel it when we were trying to get back to the church,” Elzie Sanders said.

Just up the hill from the Sanders, Kim Craig could hear the tornado coming. She grabbed her 6-year-old daughter, Morgan, out of the bed and took cover just before the wind blew out the window in Morgan’s bedroom, spraying glass inside the home.

Craig’s husband, Andre, had left for work when the storm hit but returned shortly thereafter to find his home had sustained minor damage and that a shed in the backyard had been flipped.

Morgan’s seventh birthday is Tuesday.

“She won’t forget this birthday,” Andre Craig said.

Another home off Enterprise Road suffered damage.

  The Advertiser has reporters and photographers out in the field and will post updates throughout the day.