Thunderstorms tear through Opelika warehouse district, other buildings

Updated: Feb. 8, 2017 at 8:21 PM EST
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Opelika, AL (WTVM) - The latest round of storms hit Opelika and East Alabama on Tuesday, leaving significant damage to a Goo Goo Car Wash on Marvyn Parkway and the GL Pack Warehouse on Williamson Avenue.

We confirmed with scientists from the National Weather Service in Birmingham that severe thunderstorm winds caused the structural damage.

Clean up crews arrived at the car wash lot Wednesday at 7 a.m., waiting nearly 45 minutes until they could use bulldozers to clear the debris.

The 60 miles per hour winds tore off metal and parts of the roof off the car wash bays, even leveling a building right next door.

Randy Cain, a general contractor and part of the cleanup crew at Goo Goo Car Wash, said he was thankful it wasn't something worse that tore through town.

"The structure is pretty much intact. Nobody got hurt," Cain said.

He said the first clue of damage he saw was the car wash sign swept away by the winds, which landed on the opposite side of Marvyn Parkway, along the shoulder in the grass.

"Stuff sailed across that road and nobody got hit with it. It's just stuff, we will buy more stuff," Cain said.

Kevin Laws, chief scientist for the NWS office in Birmingham, said he believes the starting point of the damaging winds came from Williamson Avenue, where the GL Pack Warehouse was visibly torn along the corner walls, and clear damage to the roof.

As for signs of a tornado, Laws and his team could not find any convincing evidence that it actually happened.

"No trees were down, that we could find," Laws said. "Very well could have been a very weak tornado, but there just wasn't enough evidence to actually call it an actual tornado at this point."

Cain said, depending on what the insurance company offers in its damage appraisal, the car wash will hopefully be back to normal in 90-120 days.

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