Record Tornadoes Hit State
A record number of tornadoes hit Alabama in February, killing five people in north Alabama and injuring dozens more.
Weather officials confirmed 13 tornadoes hit the state in the first 17 days of February. Seven tornadoes hit parts of north Alabama on Feb. 6 where five fatalities occurred. The heaviest damage was in Lawrence and Jackson counties.On Feb. 17, six tornadoes hit parts of Autauga, Chilton, Dallas, Pike, Elmore, Russell, Lowndes and Barbour counties where more than 60 people were injured. No fatalities were reported, but damage was heavy in some areas, particularly near downtown Prattville.Following both storms, Alfa Insurance dispatched additional claims adjusters to the areas to meet the anticipated increase in claims activity. “We have been extremely pleased with our response to these storms,” said Alfa and Alabama Farmers Federation President Jerry A. Newby. “We have focused on paying our claims as quickly as possible to help these families who are hurting rebuild their lives.”As of Feb. 25, Alfa had 983 claims from the Feb. 6 storms and 868 from the Feb. 17 storms.While the storms brought devastation, they also brought out the best in many people. Members of the Lawrence County Farmers Federation Board of Directors who were among the first to begin clearing debris and helping their neighbors.”Many of our farmers worked for several days along with hundreds of volunteers to help people, some they didn’t even know,” said Federation Area 1 Organization Director Tom Jones. “As soon as the storm passed, they began looking for trapped and injured people. Once the injured people were helped, our farmers brought their own equipment and chainsaws to begin the cleanup. The storm really did bring out the best in our folks.”The Lawrence County Farmers Federation purchased, with the help of the Lawrence County Exchange and Husqvarna, 11 chainsaws to be used in storm cleanup. After the cleanup, a chainsaw was placed at each of the 11 fire departments in the county.Following the storms, Alfa quickly dispatched both of its Mobile Response Units to assist with the claims service and help policyholders.”That first day people were just walking around in shock. They didn’t know what to do or where to begin,” said Pisgah Agent Shane Wootten. “The adjusters came around noon and were able to get some money in people’s hands so they could find a place to stay.” Wootten and Agent Juley Phillips spent the morning checking on policyholders at home and taking claims information. They also asked Alfa agents throughout the area to help gather food, supplies and donations for the victims and emergency workers.
When the Mobile Response Unit arrived, Phillips and Wootten organized and served a hot lunch to more than 150 people and donated the leftover food to the local community center. Local businesses donated supplies to help with the recovery and cleanup efforts.”Every agent in Jackson County and neighboring DeKalb County rallied around our community. We had a really good turnout of folks who helped distribute food and supplies. We were able to help a lot of people, not just our policyholders, but also people not insured by Alfa,” Phillips said. “I was really proud to be a part of that.”
Amy Presley of the Alfa Marketing Communications Department contributed to this story.