Katrina cuts wide path
Hurricane snaps trees, downs power lines
Clif Knight, Hartselle Enquirer
Hurricane Katrina slapped trees and unanchored objects around like rag dolls early Tuesday before it departed the Hartselle area as a tropical storm headed north.
Uprooted trees, broken tree limbs and debris and widespread power losses were left in its wake. The peak of the storm occurred after midnight with sustained 30 to 35 mph winds and wind gusts up to 55 mph.
About 16 hours earlier Katrina slammed into the Mississippi and Louisiana Gulf Coast as a category 4 storm, with a 25-ft. ocean swell, heavy rainfall and 165 mph wind gusts. The result was an undetermined number of deaths, widespread flooding and massive property loss.
"We had 114 weather-related calls from 9:30 p.m. Monday to 5:30 a.m. Tuesday," said Eddie Hicks, director of the Morgan County Emergency Management /Civil Defense Office. "Most of them were the result of uprooted trees or broken large tree limbs. I'm not aware of any reports of flooded roadways or major structural damage."
He said reports of power outages by the county's three electric distributors totaled about 12,000. However, he said it's unlikely that the total losses incurred by utilities, Morgan County Commission and municipalities will be enough to meet the minimum requirement of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for reimbursement.
Ward Brasseal of 1600 West Main Street reported wind damage to the roof of his house. He said his family was asleep when a pine tree broke off and landed on the roof.
"That woke me up at 1:30 a.m.," he said.. I didn't know at first how much damage was done. Later, I knew it was bad when water started coming through the ceiling."
Joe Wheeler Electric Membership Cooperative reported power outages totaling 8,600 customers. They included those being served out of the Pence and Mt. Tabor substations, east of Hartselle.
"The outages were caused by tree limbs getting into heavy voltage transmission lines and knocking out two main circuits at the substations," said Laura Yates, a spokesperson for the cooperative. "Our crews were out all night and worked as long as it was safe."
In an incident unrelated to the storm, the cooperative lost power to about 400 customers in Priceville Monday afternoon when a wooden power pole snapped while linemen were attempting to repair a ground support. The mishap resulted in power lines falling and temporarily blocking traffic on I-65..State troopers were called on to control traffic while repairs were being made. The outage lasted about 45 minutes.
Hartselle Utilities kept a customer service representative on duty after normal hours to take trouble calls; however, only isolated outages were reported.
"I got out early and drove around in some of the neighborhoods," Hartselle Mayor Dwight Tankersley said, "but didn't find any major damage. What I saw mostly were a couple of Bradford pear trees with broken limbs and a lot small limbs, twigs and leaves scattered around in yards, driveways and streets. Also, Joe Wheeler customers on the east side of Hartselle were without power."
Schools in the area announced prior to the storm's arrival the cancellation of school-related activities after 7 p.m. Monday and a delay in the opening of classes on Tuesday until 10 a.m.