Storm downs trees, power lines across Calhoun County
by Cameron Steele
csteele@annistonstar.com

Eddie Burkhalter
eburkhalter@annistonstar.com
Jul 02, 2012 | 8054 views |  0 comments | 13 13 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Anniston street department workers look at a portion of Miller’s Office Furniture’s roof on Noble Street after a storm moved through Sunday evening. (Anniston Star photo by Trent Penny)
Anniston street department workers look at a portion of Miller’s Office Furniture’s roof on Noble Street after a storm moved through Sunday evening. (Anniston Star photo by Trent Penny)
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A thunderstorm accompanied by hail and strong winds Sunday evening felled trees and downed power lines across Anniston and other parts of Calhoun County, causing road blockages and power outages in some of the affected areas.

The storm blew through Anniston around 5 p.m., producing hail up to one inch in size and wind gusts of 13 miles per hour, according to the National Weather Service in Birmingham.

Areas of Oxford and Piedmont saw similar conditions, meteorologist Jessica Talley said.

Around 6,000 Alabama Power customers had lost service by the time darkness fell Sunday, according to Keisha Sharpe, a spokeswoman for the company.

In Anniston, the storm hit the southern portion of the city the hardest, snapping several power lines and trees between E Street and Highway 202, from Noble Street to Goodwin Avenue, police Sgt. Chris Sparks said. Parts of Golden Springs and Constantine also saw storm damage.

“There’s quite a few trees and power lines in houses,” Sparks said.

But as of 6:30 p.m., police had not received reports of storm-related injuries.

Some of the most significant damage occurred near downtown Anniston: The winds blew off the roof of Miller’s Office Furniture. The debris ended up in the middle of Noble Street, causing police to shut down the road between 6th and 7th streets until workers could safely clean the area. They were still in the process of accomplishing that at 8 p.m. Sunday.

Other intersections along side streets in South Anniston were also blocked by broken trees and power lines, some of which were still live, Sparks said. He said it was taking responders longer than usual to clear debris, because Alabama Power had sent many of their work trucks to other parts of the country that had been affected by storms earlier in the week.

At 7 p.m., Anniston police and firefighters were still trying to clear a downed tree near South Leighton Avenue and A Street and another one at 5th Street and Goodwin Avenue.

Meanwhile, in Piedmont, approximately 75 members at Cumberland Presbyterian Church on Alabama 9 ate dinner by candlelight in their fellowship hall after strong winds knocked out power to the church.

Pastor Wade Acton said the wind came fast and hard just after 5 p.m., blowing out the flames of their outdoor grill as quickly as it splintered the giant oak tree that fell across their power line. No one was injured, and even the church van was spared because someone had just moved it away from the spot where the limb fell.

Still, the storm shook his congregation, Acton said.

 “We’ve had so many tornadoes come through here, People get scared,” Acton said, noting that an Alabama Power crew was on its way to restore power to the church.

The amount of damage in Oxford was unclear Saturday evening because a police dispatcher said she wasn’t authorized to release any information. In Hobson City, the storm had knocked down trees in the yards of at least three different residences. In Piedmont, at least a dozen large trees fell along U.S. 278, according to reports received by the National Weather Service in Birmingham.

One of the fallen trees in Hobson City landed on the front porch of the house at 1019 Martin Luther King Drive. The homeowner and his brother stood in the yard after the storm, surveying the damage. Neither was hurt, and they planned to get in touch with the insurance company before doing anything about the tree.

“Put the chain saw on it and everything will be cool,” said 61-year-old Frankie Rowe, the brother.

Meteorologists had predicted the recent heat wave would trigger violent weather on its heels. The temperature in Anniston Sunday peaked at a record-breaking 104 degrees at 1:15 p.m., National Weather Service data shows, just a few hours before the hail, winds and thunder.

Talley said the Sunday evening storm should be the last for the area — at least for a while.

“Everything else is to the north, and things are really starting to dissipate,” she said.

Star staff writer Cameron Steele: 256-235-3562. On Twitter @Csteele_star.

Star staff writer Eddie Burkhalter, 256-235-3563. On Twitter @burkhalter_star
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