DECATUR, LIMESTONE COUNTY - Boats were battered by a blast of powerful wind in Decatur. Tuesday night’s storm moved massive docks at Riverwalk Marina.
One of the docks, boats and all, was picked up and moved all the way to land. Another swung out of place, pivoting at the entrance walkway.
Damage to the marina's fuel station
Metal roofing from collapsed Dock A covers boats
The dock closest to Highway 31 took the hardest hit. The metal roof of Dock A caught the furious fast-moving wind like a sail. It sent the dock and the people aboard the boats tied to it on a wild ride.
“I can’t imagine,” Kenny Eaves told WAAY 31. “Never been there, done that. I can see what happened. And I wouldn’t want to be one of those guys. I’ve been out in pretty rough weather. But, they’re fortunate for real.”
Eaves has a tough time looking at all the damage.
His is safe in a different dock. But he was only days away from moving it to Dock A.
“Oh blessed,” he told us. “Blessed. I mean, I’m surprised nobody got hurt. I’m more concerned about that than anything.”
The wicked wind was a homewrecker to houseboats.
Morgan County EMA Director Eddie Hicks was at Riverwalk Marina surveying the damage.
“When you look at 70 to 75 mile an hour winds coming through, it can do a lot of damage because that’s really what you deal with with a hurricane,” Hicks told WAAY 31. “So, that’s what we’re dealing with.”
We often hear about the danger of a strong storm hitting a mobile home park. The docks at Riverwalk Marina basically make up a mobile home park floating on water. For some, these boats mean more than recreation, these are their homes.
“There’s a lot of these guys that live on their boats,” Eaves said. “Fortunately, they didn’t get hurt.”
The storm slammed Dock A and its dozens of boats against the river bridge embankment.
Boat owners are shocked.
What's happened here is still sinking in.
Left behind: mangled metal and crushed dreams of a time on the water.
There’s a new addition to the marina. A boom is stretched across the water to soak up any spilled fuel.
“We had one boat that sunk and it had a lot of fuel in it,” Hicks explained. “So, they’re trying to keep this in here until they can get remedies for that situation. There were two other boats that were in the process of sinking. But, they were able to stabilize those and that’s pretty good when you look at the number of boats involved in this.
The wind even devastated the marina’s fuel station. Windows are blown out. Chairs are tossed around. The cash register is battered. And the computer controlling the fuel pump is soaked.
In the parking lot, the hurricane force wind moved a steel dumpster the length of a football field.
The storm damage is devastating.
“It really is,” Hicks said. “It’s just amazing looking at it when you know what it looked like before. All the way across the street over there are pieces of this marina. It went all the way up and over the four lane highway.”
Riverwalk Marina is now a multi-million dollar mess.
“That’s a lot of money right there,” Kenny Eaves said. “But, like I said, you can replace boats and docks but you can’t replace people.”