Storm slams southern Lincoln County

Published 6:00 pm Tuesday, April 5, 2011

The “Old House,” as they called it, pre-dated the Civil War,withstood Hurricane Katrina and held many memories for the Raifordfamily.

As Tuesday dawned on the beloved structure, its roof leanedagainst its side and a large tree that fell the night before restedacross several demolished rooms.

“We’d have family dove hunts, cook out here and eat on theporch,” said Chase Raiford as he and his brother Lance cleaned upthe family property on Raiford Lane.

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The family’s current home did not appear heavily damaged, butthere were multiple fallen trees around the property that thebrothers had begun cutting up. A white trailer that was in front ofthe old house was picked up during Monday evening’s storm anddeposited against an old truck behind the house.

“It moved the truck about a foot or two,” Chase said.

Chase Raiford recalled the old house withstanding HurricaneKatrina’s winds in 2005. He said Monday’s storm was worse.

“We had several trees down, but not anything like this,” hesaid.

Chris Reid, captain with the Hog Chain Volunteer FireDepartment, said Monday’s storm moved across the county around 5:45p.m., starting in the Moak’s Creek area and ending around Ruth.Volunteer firefighters, road crews and others were out Monday nightclearing roads, and officials were assessing damage Tuesdaymorning.

“We’ve got several houses with damage and numerous trees andpower lines down,” Reid said.

Reid was unsure whether straight-line winds or something elsecaused the damage. He said the National Weather Service was comingTuesday afternoon to make a determination.

The strong winds and inclement weather caused multiple poweroutages for the area.

Magnolia Electric Member Services Director Lucy Shell said as of9:15 a.m. Tuesday, 600 members were still without power. Shementioned that of the 600, 240 members are waiting for Entergy topick up a transmission line in the Moak’s Creek area.

“In Ruth, along Highway 583 and Gleenwood Road, the system hassome major damage there,” said Shell. “We’ve estimated apossibility of up to 10 poles broken.”

While many people remain anxious for power, she said the outagespeaked between 7:30 and 8 p.m. Monday with 7,500 members withoutpower.

Shell said crews have been working since last night and theyhave a few contract crews helping resolve the outages.

“We’re hoping to have everybody on by the end of the day,” shesaid.

The Ruth Volunteer Fire Department building sustained heavydamage in the storm. Some members speculated it was totaled.

“This is like a second home up here,” said firefighter CoryWhittington.

Whittington, his wife Tiffany, and firefighter Tommie Lambertinspected the building’s side that was blown out. Cory Whittingtonwas appreciative the department’s trucks survived.

“I’m just glad it didn’t get our trucks,” he said. “At least wecan still respond.”

Elsewhere around the small community in southeastern LincolnCounty, residents were cleaning up Tuesday morning.

On Gleenwood Road, members of the Clark family discussed theordeal that saw a mobile home moved off its supports and severalrooms of another home damaged.

Ray Clark said his brother Johnny and his wife Shirley’s mobilehome was moved during the storm. Shirley Clark was taken to thehospital and held overnight for observation, he said.

Clark’s daughter Rachel said she was in their home nearby whenthe storm passed through. She was looking out for hergrandmother.

“I told Mamaw to get out of her room because that roof was aboutto blow off,” she said.

Trees were down in spaces between the Clark families’ homes.Another home in the vicinity had trees down and its roof blownoff.

As she observed the damage around the Clark family property,Highway 583 resident Betty Greer observed the relatively littledamage that a mobile home across the road experienced.

“It’s that amazing,” she said.

Elsewhere, evidence of cleared trees and downed power lines werevisible along several roads.

At Ruth Baptist Church, its steeple was blown off and resting inthe yard next to the sanctuary. Also, the roof of the church’sfellowship hall was damaged.

At Barton’s Grocery at the intersection of Highway 583 andGleenwood, owner Jody Barton and his wife Becky saw the awning overthe store’s gas pumps mangled during the storm.

“It was windy,” Jody Barton said with a laugh as he recalledMonday’s events.

Barton said he and Becky were sitting on a bench outside beforegoing inside when the weather started to worsen. He said the stormwas over in just a few seconds.

“Definitely not something you want to go through,” he said.

Staff writer Chad Lederman contributed to thisreport.