“From the Eye of the Storm to the Hearts of the People”
By: David Money
Just before noon on April 5, 2017, the White Oak Creek area of north Henry County was hit by an EF-2 tornado. Sadly, there were at least nine homes destroyed and more than twenty others that received extensive damage – primarily in the Sunset Acres and Calhoun Drive areas. But we are grateful that there were no deaths or reported injuries. There are many people, churches and organizations to thank. At the risk of omitting some who have been a part of this effort, I’d like to mention a few. Henry County Engineer Chris Champion, EMA Director Ronnie Dollar and Sheriff Will Maddox and their staffs were on site immediately – clearing roads, securing the area, assessing damages and making sure that needs were being met. District Three County Commissioner Jay Calhoun and his family brought food to those involved. The Calhoun family and the Crawford Bush family offered their land to place the tons of trees and limbs that had to be removed from the storm damaged area. Calvary Baptist Church and the Henry County Court House made safe places available for those who didn’t have one. First Baptist Church paid for motel rooms for some of those temporarily displaced while Dale Ezzell and other members of the Abbeville United Methodist Church offered housing for volunteers who came in from out of state. Disaster teams from Ridgecrest Baptist in Dothan, Watermark Church in Ashford, the Judson Baptist Association and other churches from across the area have been there to help residents cut trees off their houses and take them to county road right of ways. Various power companies and other utility companies worked together to restore power and communication systems. Local volunteer fire departments from around the county were on site immediately and stayed as long as they were needed. Many groups from across the state either joined the effort or offered to do so.
Several of us toured the area with Alabama EMA Director Art Falkner the day after the tornado. The threshold for a federal declaration is $7M. The estimated damages fell far short of that number meaning that Henry County will bear the blunt of the expenses incurred in removing all the debris. Houston County Commission Chairman Mark Culver – as well as the Houston County Commission and their Road and Bridge Department – are to be thanked for sending men, trucks and equipment to assist us with the tons of debris that had to be removed. With a small road and bridge staff, we are limited with what can be done in other areas of the county while we tend to the immediate needs in the lake area. I thank you for your patience in regard to the needed road repairs in your area until we can get back on schedule.
In situations like these, it takes a well-coordinated effort from all involved as well as an understanding of the importance of communication and working together to make things better for all those affected. On behalf of the citizens of Henry County – and especially those residents who were directly affected by the storm – a very special ‘thank you’ to everyone who worked to make an unfortunate situation better. We are most appreciative of those who brought food for the residents and the workers, those who have given financially and all who have prayed for the welfare of those who were in the path of the tornado. It truly represents the giving spirit of the residents of Henry County and the Wiregrass region. Thank you.
30 Day Update:
- March probate activity was as follows: one will probated, one adoption, three involuntary commitments, two guardianships, two administrations, one legitimation, one final settlement, two miscellaneous hearings and eleven marriage licenses issued.
- All citizens with last names beginning with ‘F’ – ‘G’ – ‘N’ who failed to renew their tags in April will be subject to a penalty in May. If you last name begins with ‘H’ or ‘O’ then May will be your month to renew your tags.
- March 31 – attended the Wiregrass Forum in Ozark to get an update from our legislators
- April 4 – attended an information meeting at the new Alabama Power emergency staging area (the former Gathering Place in Headland.)
- April 5 – an EF2 tornado strikes White Oak Creek area of northern Henry County
- April 6 – we toured the area damaged by the tornado with the state EMA director and began to make restoration plans.
- April 7 – attended Child Advocacy program in Dothan
- April 10 – took the HCYLP students to the Hyundai plant for ‘State Industry Day’
- April 13 – D-1 Commissioner Benton Beasley and I spent most of the day in the State House to lobby for funding for Henry County roads
- April 19 – took the HCYLP students to the Capitol tour and a legislative session as part of State Government day
- April 20 – hosted more than 75 Henry County 11th graders for Student Government Day
- April 21 – hosted about 15 Lakeside Christian home school students for court house tour
- April 27/28 – attended Alabama Probate Judges conference in Tuscaloosa
- May 3 – Henry County Engineer Chris Champion, Commissioner Henry Grimsley and I attended ‘County Days’ at the State House (again to lobby for Henry Co road funding.)
Dates to Remember:
- May 4 – National Day of Prayer on the west lawn of the court house – 11:00 AM
- May 5 – Abbeville Chamber monthly meeting at GSWCC – 12:00 noon
- May 5 – Wallace College Health Science Building dedication – 10:00 AM – public invited
- May 5 – Abbeville Chamber ‘Yatta Abba’ Street Dance – Downtown Abbeville – 6:00
- May 6 – Abbeville Chamber ‘Yatta Abba’ Festival – Downtown Abbeville – 9:00 – 3:00
- May 9 – May Administrative meeting – Probate Court Room – 9:00 AM
- May 9 – May Commission meeting – Probate Court Room – 10:30 AM
- May 12 – AUMC Dinner/Auction for Missions – AUMC – 5:30 PM
- May 15 – final pass for debris cleanup from tornado damage (Sunset Acres/Calhoun Dr.)
- May 20 – Headland Chamber Daylily Art/Garden Festival – Headland Sq. – 10:00 – 3:00
- May 23 – HCYLP Commencement Dinner – AUMC-FLC – 6:00 PM
- May 29 – Memorial Day (please remember those who have sacrificed for our freedom)