Russell County to collect Crawford storm debris Monday, Tuesday


Russell County trucks will make runs through the storm-damaged Crawford area Monday and Tuesday to collect debris from two tornadoes that struck there this week.

Bob Franklin, who heads the county emergency management agency, said he expects residents to take advantage of warm, clear weekend weather to clean up their property and put what they want the county to collect out on the roadside.

Franklin asked that they separate the debris into three piles to speed collection, because the trucks take it to different landfills: vegetation such as downed trees and limbs; metals such as tin roofing; and construction waste such as discarded lumber.

He doubted the county would have to collect much of the metal, as there’s still a market for scrap: “Somebody will come by and pick that stuff up,” he said.

Any homeowners who need assistance from chainsaw crews may request it by calling emergency planner Samantha Cato at 334-291-5079, extension 3, as the county has been in contact with nonprofit groups who volunteer that service, Franklin said.

The National Weather Service’s Birmingham station confirmed Thursday that the storms that struck the county Monday night were tornadoes, which Franklin said “hopscotched” through Crawford, damaging buildings and toppling trees with roots likely weakened by rain-saturated soil.

According to the weather service, the first tornado hit at 7:57 p.m. Eastern time with winds up to 90 mph. It touched down near the southwest end of Huguley Road south of U.S. Highway 80 and traveled northeast for 7.6 miles, crossing Capps Road, Phillips Road, Willis Valley Road and South Herring Road.

The storm wiped out a steel-truss shed on South Herring Road and damaged trees along Green Dudley Road before its 400-yard-wide path ended at Thomas Road, the service said.

The second tornado struck at 8 p.m. with winds up to 75 mph, its path starting southwest of Padget Road and continuing northeast for 7.2 miles, the weather service said.

That storm ran parallel to Brown Road, uprooting trees and damaging roofs as it crossed the highway to Bleeker Road, where it pushed a cedar tree onto a vacant house. The tornado’s 250-yard-wide path ended near Lee County Road 179, the service said.

Franklin said six volunteer fire departments turned out immediately Monday night to clear roads blocked by massive oak and pecan trees. Brown Road was blocked in six places, he said.

The volunteer firefighters worked until midnight, and county engineers with chainsaws were out until 5 a.m. Tuesday, Franklin said.

Today’s forecast is sunny with a high around 70. It’s to be cloudy or partly cloudy Saturday and Sunday with highs in the mid-70s, but more storms are expected Monday and Tuesday, with highs in the 60s.