Wind causes damage, more rain coming today

Published 11:59 pm Thursday, March 26, 2009

At least seven structures were damaged and two homes completely destroyed in Onycha Thursday as a powerful storm cell made its way through the county, and locals are urged to batten down as a second wave of storms is expected to move through the county later tonight.

Jeremie Schaffer, assistant director for the county’s emergency management agency, said the first storm, which hit the county at approximately 8 a.m. Thursday, did significant damage in Onycha and minor damage in the north end of the county.

“There were two homes destroyed in Onycha,” she said. “We did get reports of minor damage in River Falls, Red Level and Pt. A. The storm that’s coming through (tonight) is going to bring a threat of an additional three to five inches of rain — it could be higher, though. We’ll have to see, but people need to get prepared. There is a flood watch still in effect.”

Schaffer said representatives from the Mobile office of the National Weather Service traveled to Onycha Thursday afternoon to determine what caused the damage to the Winston Harrison trailer park.

Four families were displaced as a result of the storm, with the local Red Cross chapter stepping in to help provide recovery assistance.

“We were on scene this morning in Onycha making sure everyone was okay and taken care of,” said Jeffery Biggs, the chapter’s executive director. “One family needed emergency assistance for new clothing and shoes, while two families needed emergency shelter. One family did not require any emergency assistance, but we were able to establish contact and lend emotional support.”

As for the weather system expected to hit later this afternoon, Schaffer said EMA’s last briefing from the NWS indicated those storms are expected to last throughout Saturday morning.

“We have this front that is expected to stall over to the northeast,” she said. “And that is expected to develop (Thursday) night and bring the storms in (tonight). With those, we can expect a lot more rain.”

Weather reports for today indicate a high of a breezy 77 degrees with a south wind at 10-20 miles per hour, with gusts as high as 30 miles per hour. Chance of rain is 90 percent. By this evening, the chance of rain decreases to 70 percent with showers and thunderstorms likely. Some storms could be severe with damaging winds and heavy rain.

On Saturday, the rain chance increases again to 80 percent with a south wind around 15 miles per hour. Reports indicate gusts could reach 20 miles per hour. By the evening, the chance of rain drops to 30 percent with scattered showers and a low of 44 degrees.

By Sunday, forecasts predict a sunny day with a high near 69 degrees.