Otherwise, storm passes quietly through
By DON FLETCHER
News Staff Writer
Stiff winds that reportedly reached gale force Sunday evening (April 12) felled cable and power lines, ripped limbs from trees and sent one giant oak crashing through the roof of an Atmore home. But as has been the case for more than a year, the violent weather system did little other damage within the city.
“We dodged another bullet,” said Atmore Fire Chief Ron Peebles of the storms that left nearly 1,000 Mobile County residents without power but passed relatively quietly through the city. “We’ve been lucky, as far as bad weather, for about the last year or so. We didn’t even have to call in our off-duty people this time.”
Atmore Police Department Capt. John Stallworth agreed that the storm was surprisingly less malevolent than had been predicted.
“We didn’t have anything major at all, no wrecks or anything like that,” he said. “I don’t think it even rained all that much, so we didn’t even have any flooded streets.”
The biggest headache for police came when the blustering winds caused traffic lights throughout downtown to malfunction. Officers were stationed at several points to keep traffic moving smoothly and safely. The light at the intersection of Trammell and West Nashville was still out of order Monday morning, and a four-way stop sign was placed in the middle of the crossing.
Peebles said the anticipated squall line that moved through the city around midnight, along with the stiff winds that preceded it, kept AFD personnel on the move, although most of the calls were of relatively minor significance.
“There were so many different calls, it’s hard to keep them all in my mind,” he said. “But there wasn’t anything much to most of them, except we did have a tree down on a house across from the YMCA.”
An incident involving a tree in the yard of a home near the intersection of South Carney and Craig streets provided a prime example of the nature of the calls, which made AFD and Alabama Power Co. trucks a part of the local landscape throughout the afternoon and evening.
“The wind kept blowing the tree into, then away from, the power line, tripping the connection,” explained AFD Capt. Zack Stewart around 3 p.m. as an APCO lineman finished trimming the upper branches of the leafy softwood. “When it would hit the line, the power would go out for just a few seconds. When it blew back away from the line, the power would come back on.”
The wind-whipped tree caused brief disruptions of service to residents and businesses in the city’s southwestern quadrant for roughly half an hour.
Minutes after firemen cleared that scene, the most damaging incident of the day occurred when winds toppled the top half of an ancient oak onto the roof of a home at the intersection of School and Roberts streets. There were no injuries to the home’s occupants.
A member of a three-man crew from McMillan Tree Service pointed out Monday morning as the trio trimmed limbs in preparation of removing the treetop, that the mighty oak was rotten to its core at a point about 15 feet from its base.
“That’s what caused it to snap,” the tree removal expert said.
Elsewhere, limbs were scattered along several streets and roadways, a Mediacom cable was pulled down at the intersection of Craig and Main streets, and a power line fell across Jack Springs Road.
“Like I said, we were lucky … again,” said Peebles, who reported that wind gusts of 43 mph were recorded at Atmore Municipal Airport late Sunday night. “Let’s just leave it at that. We don’t want to jinx things.”