MONTGOMERY, Ala., Nov. 15, 2006 -- The path of the storm was clear as it crossed the Atlanta Highway, at the corner of Taylor Road and the Atlanta Highway. The Taylor Crossing subdivision, just across the street from the now destroyed Fun Zone, felt the impact of the apparent tornado as it came into the area.
And the sign from Fun Zone landed in Wallace Saddler's back yard. "I think the thing's a half a mile from where it's supposed to be, but it'll be a good souvenir."
The subdivision was closed much of the day because authorities felt it was too dangerous to let people into the area. Around 5 p.m. police started to let residents back into their homes to survey the damage.
Some people, however, rode out the storm in their homes. Nearly half of Taylor Road Crossing is in shambles. Windows busted out, Oak trees uprooted, homeowners say they could hear the storm as it blew through the area. "They say train...that's exactly what it was like," says one area resident. "It was just one noise," says another, "but it was the loudest noise I've ever heard in my life."
Windows were broken, shingles blown away, many homes are now topped with blue tarps. Saddleback Ridge Apartment Complex nearby looked like it exploded.
Because the storms have left many without a home, Frazer Memorial United Methodist Church opened its doors to those in need of shelter. Early in the evening, more than 30 folks from Saddleback Ridge Apartments had taken refuge at the large church campus.
One man, Bill McVey, says he was working on his computer in his apartment when the power went out.
"I wondered what was going on and when I looked out the window, I could see the leaves flying around so I went by my bathroom and ...it was really scary, so I jumped in the bathtub and prayed real hard. Then it stopped after about 15 minutes. Then I heard a loud noise and there was a loud pop.
When I came back out all the windows were smashed and when I went outside there was debris everywhere and my car is totaled; my car was pretty tore up. It was pretty scary. The people from management came out and they were really great at the apartments. They gathered everybody together in the office and they made calls, let us make calls to family and friends. They eventually got us here to Frazer and they've really been working hard with everything."
Bill says he had to have his girlfriend bring him a change of clothes because he had gotten soaked getting out. He said it was nice to have a place to sit and Frazer fed all the folks staying there.
Bill says he lived on the lower level so his apartment was not damaged as badly as some others. He says one man told him the damage was so bad in his apartment he had to jump out of his upstairs apartment because he didn't have any other way to get out of his apartment. Bill says the man that talked to him said his apartment was totaled. "As I looked around there are a lot of places where ...there's some pretty bad damage."
McVey says he walked away with only the clothes on his back. "I didn't even get my wallet...I'm pretty much broke." But he still feels a sense of gratitude. "I think a lot of people were blessed."
The Saddleback Ridge Apartment complex management is working to get everyone into hotel rooms to make sure everyone has a place to stay Wednesday night.
The police were the first to respond.to the neighborhood and then the utility crews to repair downed power lines and gas leaks. And then came a city agency you might not normally expect would respond to a natural disaster.
Animal Control officers spent the afternoon chasing after Pit bulls and Rottweilers, some of them hampering repair efforts of utility crews. But as power is gradually restored, everyone in Taylor Crossing is thankful it wasn't any worse. "Believe me, I was praying talking to the Lord, and so we're so blessed," says area resident Betty Granger.
A good portion of the Atlanta Highway was still closed around 6 p.m.