Thursday, September 1, 2005

Katrina’s force reaches county
• Trees down; damage minimal

By BARRY BURLESON
Editor

Marshall County seemed to escape any major damage due to Hurricane Katrina.

The storm’s widespread path reached the county Monday night and early Tuesday.

Kenny Holbrook, Holly Springs fire chief, Hugh Hollowell, county emergency management coordinator, and Larry Hall, county administrator/road manager, reported power outages, trees toppled by strong winds and lots of rainfall.

“There’s a lot of inconvenience, with trees and power lines down, but the main thing is, compared to the coast, we’re in marvelous shape,” Hollowell said Tuesday morning via telephone after working through the night.

Holbrook said his department and other city crews received steady calls from about 5 p.m. Monday to 2 a.m. Tuesday.

“We were going from place to place and call to call, checking roads and any possible fire dangers,” Holbrook said.

Both Hollowell and Holbrook praised utility workers, street and road crews and everyone involved in clean-up efforts.

“Every city department has been working together,” said Holbrook, who said he was out until about 2:30 a.m. “Roads were getting cleared about as soon as we learned they were covered up.”

He said some of the biggest trees to fall were on the Marshall County Courthouse lawn and in the area of Walthall and Roberts. One falling tree, he said, was caught by another tree just before it went into a house.

“We had a lot of power outages in the city, but utility crews did an excellent job,” Holbrook said. “The city was hit pretty hard with wind. A lot of trees are down, but there’s no real structural damage.

“Holly Springs is a beautiful, old city with lots of trees. When a storm like this comes through, you find your weak points.”

Road condition reports throughout the county started coming in about 8 p.m. Monday night, according to Hall.

“We ended up with 14 men working until 3 a.m. Wednesday morning and came back in at 7 a.m. and started again. We had 45 out cleaning up in the morning and by noon had 90 percent of the work done. We hope to completely wrap it up by the end of the day and have every road open.”

He said final touchups, running sweepers to get the small debris out of the roads, will continue for several days.

Some areas in the county, including west of Holly Springs along the Chulahoma Road area all the way to Byhalia, were almost completely spared of any severe damage, Hall said. Other areas showed damage as if storm bands had come through.

Two were particularly notable, one starting at the southeastern portion of the county and causing lots of downed trees in the Bethlehem Corner area, Waterford, Laws Hill and including Potts Camp.

“Another band arched starting at Lake Center, coursing through Hudsonville, Cayce Road and the Barton area of the county,” Hall said.

Crews did not find much damage north of Highway 72, he said.

“It was very distinct,” said Hall. “I was watching the early weather reports on the internet here at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday night. It didn’t really hit me until we got through, but I realized you could predict them. Maybe I didn’t have the foresight to recognize that until we were through.

“At one point in time, trees were falling faster than we could pick them up. At 3 a.m. the storm had pretty much died down, but from 8 (p.m.) to 3 (a.m.) it was tough. From a standpoint of traffic, hardly anyone was on the roads. It was the stillest and quietist in marshall County I have ever seen it.”

Hall said city crews had worked throughout the night.

“It was my understanding they went home sometime this morning and came back,” he said.

Areas where trees were down over power lines included one in the Marianna Road area and quite a few in the Holly Springs National Forest in the Chewalla area, he said.

Hall said winds were some of the worst he has experienced and made driving during the storm difficult.

“We were out on Laws Hill south of Fitch Farms, one of the highest elevations in the county and we pulled in with a low boy to turn around. We opened the doors in the truck and almost got them ripped off.”

Hall said some good cotton also “was rung out.”

“It was some of the best cotton I’ve seen in a long time on Russom Road,” he said. “I expect corn, cotton and soybeans probably took a licking.”

He said his crews and supervisors worked hard to make the roads safe.

“I commend our people for what they have done,” he said. “And the supervisors got out to work hard to make the roads safe to travel.”

Marshall County, Holly Springs and Holy Family schools were dismissed Tuesday due to the storm. Marshall Academy students attended classes.

Local hotels were filled to capacity, according to reports, with guests coming from the coastal areas of the state.


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