For Wendell Wilson of Calhoun County, family took on new meaning March 20 as neighbors pitched in to clear debris and salvage machinery following storms the previous evening.
A cotton picker, sprayer, equipment shed and Wilson’s childhood home were destroyed in the wake of an EF-2 twister that raked across Calhoun County March 19 around 9 p.m. As of Tuesday afternoon, the National Weather Service confirmed at least eight tornadoes hit Alabama.
The storm struck near spring planting — a pivotal time for Wilson’s cotton and cattle farm.
“I’ve expressed concern to my insurance agent about getting my sprayer in the field, and he said he’d take care of it,” said Wilson, the Calhoun County Farmers Federation president. “If people ever went through a situation like this, they would appreciate Alfa and the claims department for taking care of their customers.”
Tuesday, Alfa Agent Jamie Cosper was on site with adjusters analyzing Wilson’s claims. He compared the damage across Calhoun County to the April 2011 tornadoes that ravaged north Alabama.
“We’ve had mixed damage reports — from total-loss houses to homes and cars with minor damage,” said Cosper, who spent 3 ½ hours traveling ¼ mile home from a storm shelter the night before. “We’re trying to get people taken care of the best we can and get them money to survive till we can work through this.”
Felled trees and power lines, homes with structural damage and ruined equipment were common sights around Jacksonville, Cosper said. Farms, residential property and Jacksonville State University sustained damage from the twister, which had winds up to 130 mph. Baseball-size hail also was reported in areas near Cullman.
“We explain to our customers that we have to handle things on a severity type basis,” Cosper said. “From a claims standpoint, our customers appreciate Alfa in times like this. They know we’re here for them.”
Federation members supported the Wilsons, too, with friends from as far as Cherokee County checking in and volunteering time and equipment after the storms.
“People from my county and surrounding families came out to help us,” Wilson said. “Taking care of each other when we’re in need — that’s what this organization is about.”