Storm victims thankful no one hurt

By Tess Hollisthollis@ledger-enquirer.com

A Ladonia business owner is thankful no one was hurt after severe weather ripped a canopy from his business Friday afternoon.

Power, cable and phone service were knocked out for residents in the Ladonia area. Power was restored by Alabama Power around 5 a.m. Saturday.

John's Bread Basket, located at 3911 U.S. Highway 80, in Ladonia had a large metal canopy ripped off the store by strong winds. John Reed, owner of the business, said around 5 p.m. a man entered the store to purchase gas, and Reed preset the pumps for him.

"I figured this man had to be desperate for some gas to get out in that kind of weather," he said. "As I watched him, he was leaning into his car to pump gas because the wind was so ungodly."

Reed said they have been through a few hurricanes and tornadoes that have touched down in Russell County, but the wind and rain Friday afternoon was nothing like he had ever seen before.

"I got behind the cigarette rack to shelter myself in case the glass blew out of the front window," he said. "I watched the man pumping gas and it was all he could do to stand up."

As the storm got worse, Reed said the lights went out for a matter of seconds in the store, and the next thing he knew the metal canopy that covers the gas pumps was laying in the parking lot and the customer's family had piled into his store.

"After that happened, I had never been so glad to see someone in my life," he said. "I shook the customer's hand and gave him a hug."

Reed said he had to close the store for a couple of hours Friday afternoon to vacuum up water that had blown through the cracks of the door during the storm.

On Saturday, crews pushed the metal canopy into a grassy area, and Reed said he expected to have a new one put over the gas pumps in the next two to three weeks. John's Bread Basket is still open for business, and all the gas pumps are working.

The National Weather Service in Birmingham, Ala., reported winds at 60 to 70 mph in the Russell County area.

"I am just so thankful to the Lord that no one got injured," Reed said.

Works crews were busy Saturday cleaning up the remnants of the severe weather that moved through the area.

A two-man crew from Cable TV of East Alabama repaired damage to the company's lines on Woodland Drive, Alabama Avenue, and Price Road in the Ladonia area.

The damage resulted from three poles being knocked over in the storm.