Ivan leaves many grateful for lives

Published 12:00 am Monday, September 20, 2004

Hurricane Opal hit Butler County hard, but Hurricane Ivan knocked Butler County down.

The horrible hurricane whipped Alabama’s coast with heavy wind and rain early Thursday and then attempted to drown the rest of the state as it moved northwest.

The Category 4 hurricane made landfall at Gulf Shores around 1:30 a.m and made its presence known in Greenville about two hours later.

President Bush declared Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and the Florida panhandle disaster areas, paving the way for federal relief that will hasten the recovery.

It was a huge storm, whose size and ferocity was such that it took almost 12 hours over land for Ivan to slip to tropical storm status.

One of the hardest hit areas of Greenville was the Forest Drive, Fort Dale Road areas.

Fort Dale remained closed Friday with stately oaks lying on their sides and pines snapped apart or out of the ground.

Cecile Grinstead’s home on Fort Dale Road was barely visible from the street Thursday afternoon.

That was the case for many of the houses on the street.

Country Club Apartments on North Perry Street suffered extensive damage to the second floor of one of the buildings.

A pine tree draped over the roof, while inside the saturated ceiling collapsed to the floor.

Luckily the resident had left the building approximately 30 minutes earlier.

Across town the decking of the roof of St. Thomas Episcopal Church littered the street.

A roof lay in the alley across the street from the Front Street Pub, while the roof off Tim James’ office once again was ripped from the Commerce Street building.

The home of W.S. Godwin on Hickory Street, always quite charming, suffered a tree through the front of it during the storm.

Signs no longer stood in some places and as a testament to its strength, McDonalds’ and the Greenville Chevron signs changed direction.

At Cambrian Forest Apartments, a tree lay over one of corner of the one of the units, while trees littered the highway out there.

The Greenville Country Club lost several trees on its course, while Cambrian Ridge estimated some 450 trees were destroyed.

Due to electrical wires and downed trees, it was impossible to get very far at the Sherling Lake entrance.

Most notably for many was the fact that on Thursday, Greenville’s Waffle House, which always seems to be open, finally shut down due to the storm.

Many people seemed to miss it once the opportunity to eat there was gone.

The front of the Thrifty Inn resembled a building that a bomb had detonated in with bricks laying all about the front and tattered tarpaper flapping in the breeze.

Ty and Marindy Majors lost their home on Overlook Road, simply called a total loss.

Of course, many were described in that manner.

Some homes appeared to have been picked up and simply turned around, no longer sitting on the foundation.

Almost everyone in Greenville found himself or herself with some damage from Hurricane Ivan. Those living on South Conecuh Street were no exception.

Winds ripped through the area Thursday leaving scattered leaves, tree limbs and other items strewn all over the streets.

Some unfortunate houses even fell victim to fallen trees and projectile objects.

South Conecuh resident Mary Moore was one of the lucky ones. Aside from minor wind damage Moore said her biggest problem was scattered brush.

&uot;We’ve just got some tree branches and stuff like that,&uot; said Moore. &uot;Other than that we came out okay. We don’t have power yet, but neither do most people.&uot;

Charles and Dora Ollson also said they had received little damage.

&uot;We just had a lot of tree damage,&uot; said Charles. &uot;It knocked some wires out and we don’t have any electricity, but that’s about it.&uot;

The Ollson’s neighbors were not so lucky.

&uot;It’s not as bad as some people,&uot; said Dora. &uot;The house across from us has a tree on top of the roof. They moved out of there and I don’t know if they are coming back.&uot;

Frank and Mary Pouncey also took their lumps from the storm.

&uot;The house itself wasn’t hurt, but we had other things that were,&uot; said Mary. &uot;The fences, trees and some other things were, but not the house. There are a lot of trees down and it will take a lot of work to clean up.&uot;

Frank said his primary home had survived Ivan, but other property in the county had not come out so well.

&uot;I have a place down in the country and it took the roof off it,&uot; said Frank. &uot;I took it off and blew it 200 yards into a pasture. It really tore it up.&uot;

South Conecuh Street remained closed for the most part early Friday.

Residents of Country Club Drive in Greenville were some of the hardest hit by Ivan, but they teamed together with the help of several helpful hands to begin picking up the pieces.

&uot;It was a disaster,&uot; David Nordgren, who has been living on Country Club Drive for a year and half, said. &uot;I wish I’d gone somewhere else. I will next time. This whole street is destroyed. I’ve been through some hurricanes, but nothing like this before.&uot;

Nordgren and his family decided to ride out the storm, but he said he feels fortunate to have made it. Several trees in the family’s front yard were blown down and every tree in the backyard was uprooted. One of the trees from the backyard flattened Nordgren’s family minivan.

&uot;When the tree hit our van in the back it sounded like an earthquake going off,&uot; Nordgren said. &uot;We were very fortunate.&uot;

The Nordgren’s first sought shelter in a closet on the upper level of their home, but quickly decided to seek shelter in a basement closet. Elizabeth Ann said the storm frightened her very much.

&uot;I’ve never seen anything like it,&uot; the 10-year-old said. &uot;I was scared of a tree falling on the house.&uot;

A helpful friend could be seen at Mark Lindsey’s home helping cut trees from another neighbor’s yard. But cleaning wasn’t his biggest dilemma.

&uot;Cleaning up isn’t the problem, it’s going to be getting power back,&uot; Lindsey said. &uot;When the power company come through hopefully I’ll have my box back on the wall and we’ll get tied back in.&uot;

Lindsey’s meter box was also ripped from the brick wall it once occupied.

Although the damage in Lindsey’s yard was substantial amount of damage, he was fortunate not to get the bulk of Ivan’s rage.

&uot;The far end of the street looked a lot worse than this end, it looked like about every third house had trees on the roof and most of the power poles on the far end of the street are all down,&uot; he said. &uot;They got it a lot worse. It was pretty bad.&uot;

Twenty-year resident Millie McDonald rode out the storm at a friend’s house during the storm only to return and find much damage.

&uot;It was terrible,&uot; McDonald said. &uot;I now have a new skylight. My fireplace is damaged, I have about six trees down in the backyard and I have water damage. Thank God I have insurance.&uot;

Alice Jernigan and her husband Ed, who also live on the far end of the street, were spared during the storm and only received minimal damage.

&uot;We were spared this time,&uot; Alice said. &uot;After Opal all you could see the two huge pines on the carport that totally demolished it and we had two cars under it.&uot;

The Jernigan’s neighbor across the street wasn’t as lucky. Percy and Miriam Nixon had a total of 10 trees snap, three of which now rest atop their home.

&uot;We got a lot more damage than we did in Opal and other people had very little damage that had significant damage during Opal,&uot; Percy said. &uot;I guess Opal did some mitigation.&uot;