Day After Christmas Cleanup, Lowndes Co. Homeowners Blame Possible Tornado

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By Heather VacLav

It's not a typical day after Christmas in Lowndes County. Instead of putting away presents and holiday leftovers, some families like the Strickland’s, are cleaning up their storm damaged home.

Severe storms, producing tornadoes and dangerous winds ripped through central and south Alabama Christmas day, and now many homeowners are trying to put their lives back together.

Michael Strickland of Montgomery believes a tornado hit his cabin near Fort Deposit in Lowndes County. After the storms blew past the area, he found his front porch in the back yard.

“I’m finding bits and pieces everywhere,” Strickland said surveying his yard with debris covering the grass. “You can see it’s way down there past the house for quite a distance.”

Strickland works as an attorney in Montgomery and says finding his home Christmas night was like a nightmare he’s heard about before from his clients dealing with insurance companies.

“It gives you a new appreciation when it actually happens to you,” Strickland said. “I always talk to them and help them out, and I sit there and try to understand what they went through, until now, you truly don't understand how bad it was [for them].”

Strickland’s hunting cabin sits on a hill off of Highway 97, pushed back on land with a pond and woods surrounding the home. But even in the desolate area, friends and family are sacrificing their day after Christmas, to help undo the damage.

“I can’t believe the house is still here, compared to all the damage around it,” Mark Scott said. Scott is Strickland’s friend and ALFA Insurance Agent, he and his family are helping cut down tree limbs and clear out debris from the home.

But some damage baffles Strickland, pointing at three baby trees freshly potted. “They were lying on the ground in the exact spot they are now, where I left them, however [the tornado] took a tree stand leaning against the wall and completely twisted solid steel.”

Yet despite the storm's damage, like many other families, the Strickland family’s spirit is resilient.

“You can replace stuff, but people cannot be replaced so, that's the bright side of it, and [we] look at it that way,” he said.

Strickland estimates damages upwards of $80,000, and says his family will be spending the rest of their Christmas vacation trying to put the cabin back together again.

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