Weekend storms cause wind damage, power outages - The Randolph Leader: News

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Weekend storms cause wind damage, power outages

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Posted: Wednesday, June 28, 2006 12:00 am

Thunderstorms during the weekend caused damage in Roanoke downtown, at the Roanoke Country Club and at Roanoke Stockyards. Also, there were power outages from Friday through Monday night but the area got much-needed rain in spots.

Among those who lost power about 7 a.m. Monday and did not get it back until about 10:30 a.m. were Police Chief Adam Melton, City Councilman Walter Sudduth and City Clerk Ellen Farmer.

Melton said the power went off, his generator tried to kick on and his transfer switch "was fried." Due to the smoke he had to call an electrician to check his house, he said.

According to Alice Gordon, public information officer with Alabama Power Company, severe weather with wind, heavy rain and lightning strikes caused power outages beginning Friday about 5:55 p.m. when a tree fell on two lines and broke two poles in the Stroud area, causing a power outage from then until about 12:50 a.m. when everyone was brought back on line.

In a separate issue in Roanoke about 50 customers were affected, then restored, she said. Roanoke had a number of outages, including the Doublehead Road and Country Club Road area where a breaker at a substation went out Monday morning from 7:55 a.m. until 9:30 a.m. Lightning can occur in the daytime and not be visible, she said, but it is not known why the breaker was damaged, causing the lines not to work properly.

Another storm Monday from 4 to 10 p.m. impacted about 200 customers in the community, she said, shorting out the service. Everything is back on line, she said, but this is why the company constantly trims trees over lines and does preventative maintenance to keep the service reliable.

During the Monday night storm with heavy rain and incredible lightning strikes one hit radio station Eagle 102.3, knocking it off the air. Controls were switched to the LaGrange office and it was brought back on air but the Roanoke location was still inoperable Tuesday morning, according to Roanoke Emergency Management director Don Strength.

He also said power was knocked out from Peachtree Apartments on Peachtree towards Cedarwood Cemetery, possibly taking in some of the Mill Village. All the roads that normally flood flooded, and Fire Chief Bill Ford told him one rotten tree fell on a power line.

"It was a pretty big blow," Mayor Spec Bonner said of the weekend storms, mentioning the roof damage at the cattle barn, the window blown out at New Covenant Church, the mural blown down at the old Martin Theatre and the twisted trees at the country club.

It was a spotty thunderstorm Friday and Saturday, according to Randolph County Emergency Management Agency director Donnie Knight.

On Friday in New Hope the storms bent back part of a tin roof on a barn, and throughout the county blew down tree limbs and one dead tree that took down a power line, Knight said.

Roanoke and different parts of the county got rain, but other areas were left bone dry, Knight said. Friday it did not rain any at his house in Broughton but as he drove to Wadley it was sprinkling at Foster's Chapel and flooding in Wadley, he said.

Country club manager David Julien said Bradford pear trees twisted and fell. Pieces of metal flew off the clubhouse and workers found them 150 yards away.

Four of the pear trees were blown down on the ninth hole, but he said just about every summer they lose one or two. The wind and the long dry spell probably brought them down, Julien said.

"It looked like somebody went through and blew them up," he said, adding that a piece of tin on the cart shed was bent.

By his calculations the club grounds got more than 2.5 inches of rain during the weekend.

Chad Green of Roanoke Stockyards said that on Friday about 6 p.m. the roof received a "good bit of damage; it took the wood and all."

His insurance agent hadn't arrived to determine the damage from what he said he believed was wind shear.

Strength said he believed it was just straight-line winds. Downtown and the cattle barn area seemed to get the worst of it Friday night, he said. He could not determine rain totals since his equipment has been taken down and moved to the new jail complex on West Point Street. It is in the process of being set back up.

An unofficial rain gauge in Roanoke showed almost five inches of rain from Friday night until the storms passed Monday night. It showed almost an inch and a half Monday night in less than an hour.

Kristina Sumrall, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Calera, said volunteers who work with the NWS co-op program said rain totals from Friday until Monday included roughly 1.5 to 2 inches in Randolph County.

However, she stressed rain showers are hit and miss. An example is Sunday when she was at Lowe's in Calera probably two inches fell in a short time, but friends who lived nearby did not get any rain.

Volunteers in Rock Mills, Wadley and Wedowee record rain on material NWS installs, but no one has volunteered to measure daily precipitation in Roanoke, she said. Anyone interested in participating in this volunteer program can call (205) 644-3010, ext. 229 and explain why they are calling, she said.

Annual rain totals for this area are about normal, she said, although some would argue with that, but from Montgomery southward they have been below average for years. However, the Montgomery area received about four inches in this latest bout of thunderstorms.

Bob Schoenberner, owner of the old Martin Theatre property, said: "Evidently the wind we had Friday or Saturday blew the mural out a little bit. The crew is going to fix it this afternoon."

He didn't know about it until he was driving by. Then the police department called Monday morning, he said. Officers had blocked it off with yellow crime tape.

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