Leveled homes, downed trees and collapsed barns bore witness to the strength of deadly tornadoes that hit Alabama and Georgia March 4.
“We’ve seen everything from where there used to be houses and only slabs are left, to a substantial equipment barn with 3- to 4-foot footings pulled out of the ground,” said Alfa Insurance Adjuster J.R. Jung, who put boots to the ground to help customers March 4. “This was a bad one. It hit a little too close to home.”
The area near Beauregard in Lee County was the worst hit by an EF-4 tornado. The death toll stood at 23.
A few miles east, Jung met with Garrett Dixon, who chairs the Alabama Farmers Federation’s State Young Farmers Committee.
“We lost my shop and had a lot of damage to the equipment here,” Dixon said. “We had damage to some trailers, and a lot of fences are down. But, we are very fortunate. My cousins across the road had house damage, but it leveled a pole barn on their property and another house. When it crossed the road, it missed my grandmother’s house by about 10 yards and did a lot of damage to structures there. If it had been any farther east or west, we probably would have lost a family member. The Lord was watching out for us.”
Alfa Insurance President Jimmy Parnell was among those on the scene to assess damage and reassure policyholders.
“Our prayers are with the families who lost loved ones in this storm,” said Parnell, who also serves as Farmers Federation president. “The level of destruction is devastating. Having been through a tornado at our farm about seven years ago, I can somewhat understand what people are going through, and I’m thankful Alfa is here to help.”
Alfa sent additional adjusters to Lee County and deployed its Mobile Response Unit to Sanford Middle School in Opelika.
Dixon, who called his Alfa agent within an hour of the storm, said the company’s response was encouraging.
“It’s reassuring to know you’re going to get taken care of when you have all this going,” he said. “Knowing that Alfa is responding quickly and helping us get back to operational as soon as possible is making it easier.”
During a disaster, Jung said Alfa is usually first on the scene because the adjusters live in the communities they serve.
“We try to prioritize,” he said. “The worst get seen first, but we also have to work with law enforcement officers because they have important work to do as well.”
Jung said Alfa helps policyholders whose homes were destroyed get temporary housing, clothes and food.
“Writing checks is the easy part,” he said. “Getting to these folks and making sure they had a roof over their head was job No. 1. Then we could assess their damages.”