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The calm after the storms

An extended line of rain and thunderstorms that passed through central Alabama over the weekend dropped over half a foot of rain on Randolph County, caused flash flooding emergencies and even claimed the life of two prized rodeo horses.

The rain began early Saturday morning and continued off and on all the way through the weekend, finally exiting with a last punch of heavy storms Sunday night and early Monday morning.

Most of the flash flooding was a result of that final round of storms and led to at least one vehicle stranded in standing water in Roanoke. Roanoke police chief Jonathan Caldwell confirmed that a car with an adult and a toddler inside got stuck in flash flood waters on Chestnut Street Sunday night. The police responded and were able to tow the car to safety without further incident.

Two horses belonging to Handley Middle School student Cole Hodges were not as fortunate. Hodges’s roping horses Rusty and Mingo were killed Sunday night after lightning struck a shed where the horses were taking shelter. The horses were at Jimmy Fetner’s farm on Louina Road.

Hodges rode Mingo in the Handley High School rodeo on Friday and Saturday nights just one day before the horses were struck. A GoFundMe page has started to help the Hodges family raise money to replace the horses.

That lightning strike was part of a seemingly constant torrent of lightning that lit up the sky for hours Sunday. One measurement from Roanoke resident Mark Hall recorded 2,684 lightning strikes in the area over the weekend. Hall also measured 7.92 inches of rain from Saturday morning through Monday morning.

The rains led to multiple road closures, including a portion of Bud Cummings Road in Roanoke. As waters receded and the sun shone Monday afternoon, other issues were discovered in the aftermath. A drainage pipe under East Avenue in Roanoke suffered significant erosion damage and had become misshapen. That same erosion exposed an underground roadside utility pipe, which had bowed out from the pressure of the rearranged earth.

The waterfalls on Highway 22 in Rock Mills provided a popular photo opportunity for local folks as the river put on a powerful display of water flow in the aftermath of the storms Monday morning. There were also flood warnings issued for the Tallapoosa River near Wadley. The river crested near 14 feet early Monday morning, with 13 feet being considered flood stage for the river. The water level had fallen well below flood stage by Monday afternoon.

The issues were not as widespread here as they were in neighboring areas. In Chambers County, the Sheriff’s Office issued a county-wide travel warning Monday morning, saying “All roads and bridges should be considered impassable until further notice.”

That warning was lifted as water levels receded Monday.

Wehadkee Creek

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