County ripped by Christmas Day storms

Published 10:27 am Thursday, December 27, 2012

County Engineer and EMA Director David Butts snapped this photo of damage from Tuesday night’s storms along Highway 80.

By Fred Guarino
The Lowndes Signal

Residents of Lowndes County were treated to an unwelcome gift from Mother Nature on Christmas Day.

High winds and storms in Lowndes County knocked out power to more than 500 Pioneer Electric customers and did an estimated $250,000 in damages.

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Pioneer Electric crews reduced power outages in its coverage area from 1,655 overall Christmas Day to 216 and from 519 in Lowndes County to four as of Wednesday afternoon.

The numbers were reported from 10:04 p.m. Christmas Day to 2:56 p.m. Wednesday, according to Angela Green, communications specialist for the company.

However, exactly what caused the damage is uncertain at this point.

“We have not determined a thing,” Meteorologist Mark Linhares of the National Weather Service in Birmingham said.

He said a survey team was working its way from the Mississippi State Line toward Lowndes County and from near Troy towards Lowndes County.

“There was a tornado watch in effect, and I believe there were some tornado warnings going…. So the threat of a tornado was certainly there,” he said.

Lowndes County Engineer David Butts is serving as the county’s Emergency Management Agency Director.

He said based on reports he has received, he estimated the damages in the county to be in the $150,000 to $250,000 range.

Butts said most of the damages he assessed were in the Burkville area along U.S. 80 and Lake Berry Road.

He said the storm also crossed Lowndes County Road 37 North in the area of SABIC, but no damage was reported. He also said Mayor Walter Hill of Mosses said several homes were damaged there.

“We had extensive damage to several homes and property in a residential area of the community called Village East,” Hill said.

He said there were seven homes that received  “heavy to moderate damage” to the roof or structure, three adjacent buildings that were completely destroyed and two vehicles damaged.

Hill said one of the vehicles had windows blown out and the other was lifted and tossed about and totaled.

“Given the extent of the damage it appear that it was combination of tornadic activity and included high winds,” he said.

He said one of the residents described a loud roaring noise “worse than a freight train.”

Pioneer Electric peak coverage area totals were Butler County, 295; Crenshaw County, 12; Dallas County, 378; Lowndes County, 519; Monroe County, 37; and Wilcox County, 424.

Green reported the number of outages in its coverage area now stands at 216 total, Butler County, 140; Dallas County, 10; Lowndes County, 4;  Monroe County, 25 and Wilcox County, 37.