Close Call

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Hurricane Ivan huffed and puffed, but didn't blow Crenshaw County away.

Fortunately most of the residents of the towns scattered throughout the county received only minimal damage and had to endure power outage caused by the Category 2 storm that slowly blew through last Wednesday night and Thursday.

"We got major damage as far as debris and probably 90 percent of the residence had minor to major damage," Crenshaw County Emergency Management Authority Director Anita West said. "There were some trailers that were totally destroyed, one or two in the north end of the county and one in the south end."

Throughout the duration of the storm the EMA tracked the hurricane and kept elected officials briefed on various warnings issued throughout the night.

"It wasn't exciting," West said.

Although the powerful storm wreaked havoc in surrounding counties including neighboring Butler County, West believes it spared Crenshaw County despite scattered structural damage to businesses and homes caused by high winds and tornados that spun off the hurricane's eye.

"Crenshaw County was very lucky," West said. "We didn't have any major tornado damage compared to Dale, Baldwin and Mobile counties. We're minor to those."

West believes Crenshaw didn't receive as much damage as its bordering counties because it wasn't in the path of the eye of the storm. She said Ivan compared in some ways with Hurricane Opal.

"As far as wind, it was about even with Opal," West said. "I think we have a lot more individual assistance with Ivan than we did with Opal. Opal was a major rain flooding, road destroying hurricane, but Ivan didn't have as much rain."

Much of Crenshaw County received major road damage due to flooding during Opal. Ivan unleashed its winds, which uprooted trees onto roadways closing most of them in Luverne and the Crenshaw County area.

"All but three or four streets in Luverne were back open by nightfall on Thursday," Luverne City Engineer Morris Tate said. "The volunteer fire and rescue department assisted the street department in clearing the streets and roads. We appreciate their help and the work that everybody did. We appreciate the cooperation and the patience of all the citizens."

Brantley Town Administrator Larry Morgan expressed his relief that the storm didn't do any more damage than it did.

"We had substantial tree damage and we had some roofs damaged," he said.

Before the roadways became impassable hundreds of people flocked to numerous shelters throughout the county. West said most shelters were full by 10 p.m. Wednesday night.

"We were nearly full at every shelter," West said. "The courthouse and South Luverne Baptist Church were full and Luverne Church of God was pretty full. Most everybody was packed."

Other shelters included, Luverne First Baptist Church, Luverne United Methodist Church, Glenwood United Methodist Church, Glenwood Baptist Church, Glenwood Town Hall, Rutledge Baptist Church, Danielsville Baptist Church, Union Baptist Church, New Ebenezer Baptist Church, Luverne Church of God, Brantley Community Center and Brantley Methodist Bethany Center.

"Most people evacuated before the storm because they felt like their mobile home or home was not safe," West added.

Late Tuesday evening, the Red Cross arrived in Luverne to help feed those residents throughout the county that remained without power. The organization stationed at the Furman-Mitchell Multipurpose Center to help aid those in need throughout the area.

"We're happy to have the Red Cross in town to help provide needed assistance to the residents of our city and throughout Crenshaw County," Luverne Mayor Joe Rex Sport said Wednesday morning.

The Federal Emergency Management Authority began delivering truckloads of ice and water to those in need late Friday evening.

Many businesses remained closed Friday to continue cleanup efforts. Crenshaw County Public Schools were no different.

"We lost some shingles from several of the roofs," School Superintendent Kathi Wallace said. "We also lost a good bit of roofing off of one corner of Luverne School's cafeteria, which was probably our worse problem we had, but I think we can get that fixed relatively easy. Some water damage occurred to the ceiling tiles and stuff like that on the inside of the building."

Wallace also said the roof on

the uninhabited end of the board of education building was completely blown off.

"If we're going to kept that part of that building from falling in, we're going to have to replace it, but it's not as crucial as the Luverne cafeteria," she said.

School was cancelled Thursday and Friday of last week and Monday of this week. Wallace said one of the days will be made up on the Good Friday, weather holiday already scheduled, but it is uncertain about the other two.

"Right now we're looking at our school calendar and we will have to make up these days," Wallace said. "It is the law that students go to school 175 days and teachers actually work 182 days, so we've got to make up the three days. The board meets on Monday night and I'll have a plan ready for them to approve."

West assures that cleanup efforts throughout the county will take months.

"Cleanup efforts as far as debris will take months," she said. "You'll be seeing debris piles beside the roadways for months."

Tate urges residents to put all debris near the roadway.