By Jeff Helms
LEE COUNTY, Ala., March 4 — Leveled homes, downed trees and collapsed barns bore witness to the strength of Sunday’s deadly tornadoes as Alfa Insurance responded to claims today.
“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 Adjuster J.R. Jung. “This is a bad one. It hit a little too close to home.”
The area near Beauregard worst hit by an EF-4 tornado remained closed to adjusters and non-emergency personnel Monday afternoon while law enforcement officials conducted search-and-rescue operations. 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,” he added. “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 president of the Farmers Federation. “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 them.”
Alfa sent additional adjusters to Lee County and deployed its Mobile Response Unit to Sanford Middle School at 1500 County Road 11 in Opelika.
Dixon, who called his Alfa agent within an hour of the storm, said the company’s response has been encouraging.
“It’s kind of 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 can help 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 have a roof over their head tonight is job No. 1. Then we can assess their damages once we are allowed in.”
Alfa customers who need to file a claim may contact their local Alfa service center; call the Customer Resource Center at 1-800-964-2532, 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily; go to AlfaInsurance.com; or use the Alfa2Go app for iPhone and Android smartphones.