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Wind, rain cause damage in Chattahoochee Valley

Surveillance camera captures gas pump exploding when storm knocked it over

The storm passing through Columbus April 14 damaged the Citgo gas station and store at 1431 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd in Columbus. This video from a surveillance camera shows a gas pump exploding after being knocked over from the storm.
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The storm passing through Columbus April 14 damaged the Citgo gas station and store at 1431 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd in Columbus. This video from a surveillance camera shows a gas pump exploding after being knocked over from the storm.

Strong winds and rain caused heavy exterior damage to the control room and administrative offices of the Phenix City Wastewater Treatment Facility Sunday morning, some of the worst local damage observed in the aftermath of storms that swept through the Southeast and into the Chattahoochee Valley.

Lt. Skip Lassiter, of the Phenix City Police Department, said that the plant is still operating as usual but that there was some damage to the buildings and and a few vehicles.

“There was an employee working at the plant. He took shelter and he was fine, no injuries,” Lassiter said.

Lassister said no injuries had been reported elsewhere in the city.

Many trees were also downed at the plant, trees potentially weakened by tornadoes that swept through the area March 3, killing 23 people in Beauregard, Alabama.

Sunday’s storm came through Phenix City around 10 a.m. and into Columbus shortly after.

A section of Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd was hit with strong winds, heavily damaging the Quick Mart near Murray Street. The convenience store’s gas pumps and canopy were tossed around in the wind, and the store remains closed.

Downed trees and power lines were the main casualties throughout the rest of the city, and were concentrated mainly in the Lakebottom area, where flooding was also reported.

Pat Biegler, director of public works for the Columbus Consolidated Government, said there was a “flurry” of calls about downed trees following the storm.

“We have about 14 different locations with trees blocking roadways,” Biegler said Sunday afternoon. “We are halfway through clearing the blocked roads, the others are tangled up with power lines so we have to wait for Georgia Power to give the all-clear before we can get those.”

Georgia Power was reporting nearly 1,000 customers in Muscogee County without power directly after the storm, but the number was reduced to the low 300s as of around 5 p.m. Sunday.

Biegler said it will likely be just a day before all of the debris from the downed trees is collected, unlike the large amounts of debris from the March 3 tornadoes, which is still being cleaned up.

“It’s immeasurably better,” Biegler said. “We’ll be cleaning up from (the March 3 tornadoes) for another month.”

The damage came during a tornado watch issued by the National Weather Service for a large portion of western Georgia and eastern Alabama. Meteorologists kept a watch for potential rotation as the severe weather moved eastward.

The tornado watch expired at 2 p.m. but a wind advisory was issued until 10 p.m.

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