Clanton area bears brunt of hail damage

Published 7:51 pm Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Allstate agency owner Chris Millard assesses hail damage on a car Wednesday afternoon.

Allstate agency owner Chris Millard assesses hail damage on a car Wednesday afternoon.

Photographs, videos and news of the dents Monday’s hail made in Chilton County traveled faster perhaps than the hailstorm itself.

Although the hail did not set or break any known records concerning size, it did its share of damage to residents’ homes and vehicles, particularly in the Clanton area, in the 30-minute period the single storm cell spent moving from east to west through the county.

The largest hail Clanton received Monday afternoon between about 3:30 and 4 p.m. measured three inches in diameter, according to meteorologist Jim Westland of the National Weather Service in Birmingham.

Hail seen in most other areas in the county measured about 1 3/4 inches in diameter, roughly the size of a golf ball.

“It was out of the ordinary, but not something we’ve never seen before,” Westland said.

The storm resulted in about 600 Alabama Power customers in the Clanton area losing power, according to Mike Jordan of Alabama Power.

As of 9 p.m. Monday, the number had been reduced to about 185, and all of Alabama Power’s Clanton area outages were restored overnight Monday.

Central Alabama Electric Cooperative recorded about 530 outages in Chilton County, all of which were restored Monday night.

“Most of those were due to wind,” CAEC communications specialist Tiffany Trueblood said. “We definitely dodged a bullet. It could have been worse down here. We managed to get ours back on in a very timely manner.”

Jason Calhoun and his co-workers at Allstate Insurance in Clanton have assisted dozens of people the last two days with claims on their cars and houses damaged by the hail from Monday’s storm.

“With the size of hail that we had, we’re lucky we didn’t have more damage throughout the community,” Calhoun said. “I don’t know if we’ve had the kind of damage like this since last year’s tornados.”

Calhoun, Allstate agency owner Chris Millard, local adjustors and field agents have turned the Clanton office into a “headquarters” with a tent in the parking lot to help customers file claims and assess insurance coverage as quickly as possible.

Calhoun said most claims have ranged from $2,000–$6,000 in damages.

“We’ve been able to get people in and out for the most part,” he said.

Chilton County Schools Transportation Supervisor Jason Griffin said one school bus sustained damage to its windshield, but all other buses in the fleet were spared.

No drivers or students were injured on or around the buses during the storm.

“We were very lucky,” Griffin said. “The buses are constructed out of pretty solid steel, so we didn’t have any major issues.”

Chilton Research and Extension Center Director Jim Pitts said the hail did not disturb the county’s peach crops.