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At least 30 homes in Colbert Heights have storm damage

The number is expected to grow as emergency management officials and the National Weather Service assess the damage.

Posted: Dec 18, 2019 2:48 PM
Updated: Dec 18, 2019 2:53 PM

At least 30 homes in the Colbert Heights area of Colbert County have storm damage.

That number is expected to grow as emergency management officials and the National Weather Service assess the damage.

Officials looked on Tuesday at the hardest hit area on Lynn Drive. At least 10 homes on this street alone have damage with tarps now draping over the tattered roofs and busted vehicles.

"With the tree damage, it takes winds of probably 100 mph to down the trees on this kind of scale, so we know, obviously, it was very strong," Brian Carcione with the National Weather Service said.

These downed trees are being cut up and moved off, with volunteers helping speed up the recovery process.

"We've had such a tremendous response from volunteers and emergency responders and surrounding agencies to help that things are happening very fast, so it could be a shorter event than what we anticipate," Michael Smith, the Colbert County Emergency Management Agency's director, said.

Roger Creekmore grew up on Colbert Heights Mountain and knows the families who were hit the hardest.

"Our friends here on Lynn Drive, the Clarks, the Suggs, we all grew up together and we will all be here for one another," he said.

Everyone WAAY 31 spoke with on Tuesday kept repeating how material things can be replaced, and it's a miracle that no one was hurt there.

One woman said as the tornado was touching down on Colbert Heights Mountain, she wasn't scared at all.

Brenda Vandiver lives on Woodmont Drive. She had a ton of trees and debris down in her yard, but somehow, her house wasn't hit.

"I had a stroke the first of June, got a new knee in October, and I was in the bed when the tornado hit," she said.

She explained what happened as the tornado barreled through the area.

"The house started shaking and debris was hitting it. It did not sound like a train. It sounded just like a tornado with debris flying," Vandiver said. "I covered my head up. It was too late to do anything else. This house has got good bones."

Vandiver said her uncle built the house and it's been in the family for years. With devastation around her, she is looking at the positives instead of the negatives.

"Why not? Gotta do what you gotta do," she said.

Vandiver said on a serious note, she saw firsthand what a tornado did to Phil Campbell, where dozens were killed in 2011, so she's thankful everyone in Colbert Heights has their lives.

The Colbert Heights First Baptist Church has become the emergency management staging center.

"People are hurting, and so in the community that you love, it overwhelms you a little bit. But quickly, the phone started ringing and people started showing up. We're very, very blessed," Seth Hood, a pastor, said.

Hood said they will keep their doors open to the public and first responders for however long it takes.

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