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Hurricane Ivan not so terrible through Petrey

Hurricane Ivan proved to be not so terrible in Petrey.

Residents breathed a sigh of relief last week when Ivan's eye passed by to the west of us and no people were hurt or houses destroyed. The town was without power for about 60 hours, but the power of prayer remained constant.

It was ironic that as soon as a huge 18-wheel refrigerated transport truck pulled up in front of the Community Center Saturday night loaded with bags of ice, the power came back on. FEMA always comes through, and Sheriff Charles West was happy to play "Santa Claus." People were thankful for the ice and it was needed. We thank FEMA for coming to the rescue.

Not one house had major damage. Scott and Laura Elliott probably sustained the most damage with wet carpet, water leaks and a broken fountain. Scott and Kristin Kelly had a close call when a huge tree fell behind their trailer, barely missing it. Two big trees also fell behind the Methodist Church, but also missed the building. Some houses had a few shingles blown off.

Every house hasn't been checked, but these are some of the reported results of the hurricane.

It looked like our property was hit the worst of anyone in town, but it only concerned an outbuilding.

The roof of the "office" behind our house was hit with a huge limb, which tore a hole in the center of the roof.

There was no damage inside, except for a portion of the ceiling.

We also had more tree branches covering our yard than any other, but we are grateful that none of the 10 trees on our two-acre lot hit our house.

I worked alongside my husband for two solid days picking up branches and sticks, clearing the yard.

It took Ivan to get me outside. Normally, my husband does all the yard work.

Our son Bert lives in Spanish Fort, close to Mobile, so he came to stay with us Tuesday. When he found out that his house was not damaged at all, he decided to drive back Thursday night right after the storm. His parents were worried, but he made it back with no trouble. Another son, Perry, who lives in Bay Minette, had no damage to his houses and office building. Our family is all praising the Lord for watching over us during the hurricane.

Don and Peggy Hermeling's son Steven, and David Kelly, drove up from West Palm Beach to bring back the generator they lent him for Hurricane Frances' fling in Florida. He and David left to go back the next day. They wanted to be there in time to board up their windows (again) in case Hurricane Jean came their way.

The hurricanes have been relentless in their assault on Florida this year and now Alabama and even North Carolina have been attacked.

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Neighbor helping neighbor was one of the positive outcomes of Hurricane Ivan. Things shared were generators, a cook stove and chainsaws. The community really came together. There were more visiting than usual because televisions and computers were out and conversation was in.

Mary Helen Fleming from Ramer and Peavy Trotter from Shady Grove visited the Elliotts on Saturday to encourage them after the storm. It was a blessing to see so much caring.

Phillip and Kathy Swindle offered their building, East Alabama Poultry Supply, Inc., as a place of refuge for 11 people. It has a walk-in vault. Kathy said the building was used for shelter during Hurricane Opal as well.

Bobby Beasley and other members of his National Guard unit were asked to come Wednesday and assist the storm victims at the Armory in Luverne where 35 people took shelter until Friday morning. Beasley was in charge of the kitchen.

On Thursday afternoon part of Beasley's Guard unit was activated for two weeks of duty in the Baldwin County area, but they also have been helping with the relief effort in Andalusia.

Beasley's job is driving a truck to transport supplies.

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In past columns we have featured W. L. Petrey Wholesale and its value to our community.

Petrey has another major company that is a blessing to our town – East Alabama Poultry Supply, Inc., owned by Phillip Swindle.

Phillip, Kathy, and daughter Sabrina moved from Camilla, Ga., to Petrey on Oct. 1, 1997, and opened their business in the former Petrey Dairy office building. They lived in the building for three years until they built a beautiful home off the Bodiford Pool Road. Kathy was the secretary until last year. Sabrina is now secretary.

The business operation consists of installing Big Dutchman poultry equipment and generators in chicken houses (broilers, breeders and pullets). Andy Thomas is the serviceman and Donald Thomas is the warehouseman. Contractors for the company are Tim Scroggins, Doug Brooks, Kevin Christian and Robert Davidson. The business covers Alabama, Georgia and Florida with two offices in Georgia in Camilla and Thomaston.

When the Swindles moved to Petrey, Sabrina enrolled at Pike Liberal Arts School. After her first day in 10th grade, she came home declaring, "Everybody likes everybody," which is a perfect example of our hospitality.

Kathy also has good things to say about Petrey,

"When somebody is in need, y'all just jump in," she said. "That's what we like about this small community. We love the people here."

The Town of Petrey is glad to have the Swindle family and East Alabama Poultry, Inc. as a part of its community.