by Jan Allred
For residents of Covington County, severe weather didn’t begin Saturday, it began Thursday when the Onycha community (outside of Opp) was awakened as straight-line winds cut across the county. Six homes, one business, as well as two chicken houses, sustained significant damage, but there were no injuries reported.
Saturday morning residents were awakened to the sound of hail hitting their rooftops and tornado warning sirens sounding as severe weather went through the county for the second time in two days. The rainfall that began early Saturday morning caused road closures, home damage and claimed the life of a local man. In Covington County, it was Florala that suffered the most water damage as the rain continued to pour until early afternoon with estimates totalling 10 inches.
Florala Police Department, Florala Fire Department, Florala EMS and the IRT from March Air Force Reserve Base in California responded quickly after the first round of storms passed through the city. They removed debris from roadways, went door-to-door to check on elderly residents and directed traffic.
Electricity was out in the downtown area most of Saturday morning and gas lines quickly formed at the Paxton Tom Thumb and the Nugget store just over the Florida line as tourists and residents tried to get out and check on friends and family.
The National Weather Service in Mobile forecast that up to 10 inches of rain could fall on the county Tuesday with another line of storms enroute to the area and expected to strike Thursday.
Alabama Governor Bob Riley has declared a disaster area in Covington County and 11 other counties by declaring
a State of Emergency. By doing so, the Governor authorizes the Alabama Emergency Management Agency to assist communities, make the appropriate assessments of damage and seek state and federal assistance for the affected
areas. “We will offer any and all assistance that is available to Alabamians who have suffered damage,” said Governor Riley.
The affected counties are: Baldwin, Clarke, Covington, Coffee, Crenshaw, Dale, Elmore, Geneva, Houston, Henry, and Washington.
The governor declared a state of emergency after House Speaker Seth Hammett requested he do so Monday morning.
The Covington County Commission held an emergency meeting to declare a state of local emergency and Florala officials declared a local state of emergency Saturday.
If you have suffered damage due to the storm systems that traveled across the state over the past five days, contact
the Covington County Chapter of the American Red Cross at 334-428-2680.
Roads Closed in Covington County as of 4:30 pm Tuesday, March 31, 2009
Paved Roads completely closed: County Road 2 in Wing, Still Pond Rd in Lockhart, Glen Chambers Rd, Boggan Level Rd between Hwy 137 and Sanders Rd
Paved Roads that are one lane only: Bass Rd at the bridge
Dirt Roads completely closed: Charolais Rd, Harrell
Rd, J Entry Rd, Blackwood Rd, Substation Rd, Bass Rd, Geohagan Rd, Prescott Rd, Beavers Rd, Walker Rd, Sanders Rd, Shiloh Cemetery Rd, Davis Rd, Ready Creek Rd, Gorum Bridge Rd, Clark Rd, Easy St Rd, Giles Rd, Norris Rd ,Lynsey Lp