The Master Gardener’s class I’m attending let out a little early and normally I’ll stand around and talk to other members of the class, but I’d been watching the storm on my iPhone and I knew it was on top of us, so I scooted out to my truck.
I barely closed the driver’s-side door when a blast of wind slammed into the side of the truck and horizontal rain began to fall.
The traffic light at Walston Bridge Road was out and flapping like a kite in the wind.
I made it to the Warrior River bridge and turned to go through Sipsey, but I could see traffic was at a standstill up ahead, so I wheeled around in the Frosty parking lot and headed toward Sumiton.
A sense of dread welled up in my stomach like a bad burrito. I breathed a little easier once I got to Sumiton and saw the clouds weren’t as dark.
I was about to send a mental all-clear to my brain because it really didn’t look that bad.
When I got to New Canaan church to turn toward our house, there was a tree down. I could hear angry chainsaws up ahead. The Empire Fire and Rescue Squad and some of the Hollis boys had swung into action and had one lane cleared in no time.
I drove a few hundred yards and came upon another huge pine across the road. Don Phillips and some other folks I didn’t know were working to clear up those obstructions.
A young neighbor who owns a four-wheel drive truck gave me a lift and we drove through soggy yards and wooded areas on the way to my house.
I immediately saw that my neighbors Cody and Tina Hardin who live across the road from us had major damage. A massive pine had fallen on two of their cars and on the roof of their house. Another neighbor had an oak as big as a boxcar lying through the middle of their house.
I walked around our house and realized that miraculously our roof didn’t have the first limb on it.
We lost 20 plus trees, many of them in our back yard. A couple had fallen on my chicken pen, and one pine that was too big to reach around had fallen on my chain-link fence and on the power lines to the barn.
The old house and barn lost part of their roofs, but we weren’t hurt and the house was intact. Our dogs were wired tighter than a tenor banjo, but they were fine.
I couldn’t see the chickens, but when I moved limbs in their pen, I heard them cussing in the corner. They had all survived.
I’ve spent the last few days mending fences and removing debris from the yard. I got a hand from my brother-in-law Ricky, his son Haven and his friends Damon Owens and Misty Fowler.
On Wednesday everything came together. Terry Thompson brought his Bobcat to remove the big trees, the Alfa Insurance adjuster showed up to assess the damage, and my new friend Archie Rodgers from Alabama Power made repairs to the lines.
The lights flickered on about 3 p.m. Archie dropped by to make sure we were up and going and I could have hugged his neck when he pulled into the yard.
I’d be the first to admit that doing storm cleanup work and all the other things was a pain, but sitting here in the warmth of my home typing these words to you, I feel blessed, because it could have been a lot worse.
I want to extend a big thank you to all the crews who worked tirelessly for long hours to get our lives back to normal.