EF-1 Tornado Damages Parts of Historic Lee County Town

By Lindsey Connell - bio | e-mail

LOACHAPOKA, AL (WTVM) -  There was no such thing as a lazy quiet Saturday for Loachapoka residents as they started picking up the pieces left by Friday night's tornado.

Our cameras captured some of the damage Friday night right after the storm blew thru.

Today, victims could not shake the experience from their minds.

"You hear people talk about a loud train. It sounded more like an atomic bond. It was real loud and it didn't last but a few minutes and it was over," said Loachapoka city councilor and storm victim Terry Woodall.

Winds pulled trees down everywhere- on top of cars and in the streets.

"It's an EF-1 tornado on the order of 100 mile an hour winds," determined Kevin Pence with the National Weather Service.

Even the most recognizable part of town got caught up in the storm- the area where Loachapoka holds it famous annual syrup sopping festival.

"This little town is really an old town and historical town and so we hate to see any kind of damage in this area," said the town's mayor, Larry Justice.

Both of the towns churches were damaged. Winds blew the steeple right off the top of Loachapoka Baptist Church just as members were preparing for Easter Sunday services.

"We have wind damage on the front and some openings on the inside. There's water damage on the inside of the church too and we had some insulation inside," said Lisa Merritt, a member of Loachapoka Baptist Church.

But with no homes severely damaged and no injuries, residents are finding a silver lining.

"I just think times like this make the community stronger. People have come out in support and so we'll just continue on," said Dina Rowell, another member of Loachapoka Baptist Church.

"We're all going to work together to put this town back together," added Justice.

Both the Loachapoka Baptist Church and Loachapoka United Methodist Church will be having Easter Sunday services at their respective churches.

The town's mayor says he plans to meet with county officials this coming week to further address the damage.