Thursday, May 15, 2008
Saturday just had that stormy look and feeling.
And a quick look at any weather forecast made you realize the watches and warnings would be here sooner or later.
We made it through 5- and 6-year-old softball Saturday morning in Byhalia, the high school state playoff game at Marshall Academy Saturday afternoon and the $10,000 giveaway at MA Saturday evening.
Shortly thereafter, it was time to go downstairs.
The thunder, the lightning, the wind, the radar were sure signs it was time to seek shelter.
Thunderstorm warnings became tornado watches and then tornado warnings for Marshall County.
Winds in excess of 100 miles per hours were predicted.
We heard some limbs falling in the backyard. The rain was pelting.
But the worst of it passed in seemingly 15 minutes or so.
In the middle of that 15 minutes, my cell phone rang. It was a kind lady from the alarm alert center.
“Mr. Burleson, we have an alarm at The South Reporter for glass breakage,” she said.
“Thanks,” I replied. “We’re in the midst of a tornado warning. That might have set it off, or perhaps the electricity flickered. I will go check it as soon as I can get out of the house.”
About 30 minutes later, I drove to the office, not really expecting any damage.
Then as I turned onto South Center Street, I noticed the awning on the front of the building was downed, up against the front glass.
That awning has withstood some really strong winds in recent years. This storm had to be much stronger.
I actually couldn’t tell the extent of the damage due to the darkness.
I also heard noise over on Memphis Street. I walked over and a group was moving tin and wood from the street, apparently from nearby roofing.
The next morning, Sunday, I drove back up to the office to check out the awning in daylight. The cloth portion was fine. The supports had basically been jerked from the building.
One concern was the metal braces banging against the front glass. I did some temporary work, thanks to tape and cardboard, to try and prevent any breakage.
Then I called Bruce Gullick, who I depend on a lot for repairs. He was just waking up, I think, and said he’d call me back.
I normally don’t take my phone into the church building, but I told him I would today and leave it on vibrate.
He called me about 11:35. He said he was at The South Reporter building and it appeared he could get the emergency job done with the help of his brother David.
I came by after church and they were already hard at work. I spent most of Sunday afternoon at the office, too, helping them a bit with supplies and tools, and buying them some lunch.
I also discovered our phones had taken a hit. So I bugged Joe Fant at home Sunday afternoon and he was quick to respond to that Monday morning, too.
I also telephoned Hugh Hollowell, Marshall County emergency management coordinator, and Kenny Holbrook, Holly Springs fire chief, early Sunday – asking about damage and possible photos. As usual, they were cooperative and informative – pointing me in the right direction.
So, before church, I drove around taking pictures of some of the storm’s remnants.
Damage was widespread in Marshall County, and the Snow Lake area of nearby Benton County was hit hard, too.
But, all in all, we were once again blessed.
The deaths of 98 people attributed to tornadoes this year has made 2008 the deadliest year thus far for tornadoes since 1998 in the U.S. and the seventh deadliest since modern recordkeeping began in 1950, The Weather Channel said.
And this is just mid-May.
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