Apalachicola Residents Survey Tornado Damage

By: Paul Matadeen
By: Paul Matadeen

10-28-06

This morning marked first light for many of the people in Apalachicola who endured a long, dark night after a tornado tore through their town leaving them wondering what damage they would wake up to.

Emergency officials say the tornado tore through a two-block section of the town, almost following a diagonal line from the Apalachicola Bay to the Apalachicola River, and today first light's giving way to thanksgiving that amidst mangled metal and broken windows, the people of this historic town are counting their blessings that they're alive.

If you're heading east to Apalachicola, more than likely the Burger King, or what's left of it, will steal your eye. It's a sign of the devastation that this small city woke up to after a twister took what ever it pleased from this historic town.

Burt Simmons with the Apalachicola Fire Department said, "I've seen them from a distance, on TV, but this one's close to home. There was no doubt when you heard it what it was."

George Whetzel was on his way out of town when the twister stopped him dead in his tracks.

"It pulled me up and spun me around and threw me on the ground and bombarded me with debris," he said.

And amidst a brush with mother nature, Whetzel said he's just glad to be alive.

"It's just things. You can get more. Life is more important than things, so we're fortunate to be alive."

Just a few steps away was Kathy Jansen.

"That sailboat was parked over there. It hit that roof and came over here and hit that car that was parked, slid off, and hit the pilings there. Thank God it didn't hit our boat," she said.

And with her boat spared, now it's time to clean up the enormous mess.

"We had a tree over here that he's chopping up. It fell over here across our front porch. A piece of it went through in between the pillions and landed, locked this window out here."

The biggest problem right now is power lines in the middle of the road, and city officials say that until they can correct that problem it's lights off for much of the city.

"They're trying to work their way into the substation to get into it to get started. It's going to be into the night before we get power going.”

The Emergency Operations Office says electricity, at least to service-type businesses, should start coming on this evening, but they say it's still too soon to know when all power is being restored, and it's important to note if you are in Apalachicola and need assistance of any sort, officials urge you to stop by the Piggy Wiggly supermarket and they'll do whatever you can to help with what's going on.


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