Recovery efforts continue at Jackson Lake Island after tornado devastates property

The owners estimate half a million dollars worth of damage
Updated: May. 23, 2021 at 4:09 PM CDT
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MILLBROOK, Ala. (WSFA) - It’s been nearly three weeks since an EF-1 tornado caused destruction in parts of Prattville and Millbrook. One area hit particularly hard was Jackson Lake Island.

The devastation to the property was so substantial the island decided to close until things could be restored.

The pavilion and tree house on the island, which have both been there since the 70s, were nearly flattened by massive trees. Owners Lynn and Bobby Bright said there were somewhere close to 200 trees across the property that fell over.

“The number of trees down, across the roads, across the entire island, was what was the most shocking,” Lynn Bright said.

Some of the RVs on the property were also damaged by fallen trees the night of the storm. Bright recalls one trailer being demolished by a tree. Miraculously, however, no one was injured.

“No one being injured and no one losing their home completely was just a blessing,” Bright said.

Also, despite being built 18 years ago out of temporary materials, there was no damage done to the Big Fish movie set on the island.

“Hardly any damage done in the town of Spectre,” Bright said. “In Tim Burton’s movie, it was a mystical town, and it remains that now because it’s still standing when the rest of the island was just devastated.”

There is also a large number of goat and sheep that roam the island. Bright said all of them were unharmed.

“Land is kind of like we as humans, it’ll take time to heal, but it’ll be back, and I hope it’ll be back better than ever,” Bright said. “We’ve lost a lot of trees, so finding shade which has always been so easy on the island, it won’t be as easy to find. There will be places that people used to sit for an entire day to picnic and enjoy the shade, a lot that’s gone, but a lot of it remains so we will survive.”

Since the tornado hit on May 4, the Bright’s have been working hard to remove the massive fallen trees from the island. There are multiple burn piles seen throughout the property as they try to get rid of all the debris. Bright said aside from the damage done to the structures, they are about 70 to 80% done with recovery efforts.

We have been working very hard to clean the island and the more than 150 trees downed by the tornado. We want to make...

Posted by Jackson Lake Island on Sunday, May 23, 2021

“We have done a lot of it, but we finally hired a land clearing company that did a really good job. They are quite expensive though, so they were only here for about five days,” Bright said.

The Bright’s estimate that the total cost of all the damage done to the property adds up to half a million dollars.

They said they hope to have the island back open in two weeks time, but it all depends on how quickly they can get things restored.

“We hope that those that come to visit will understand that even though it looks pretty much cleared up now, that it’s going to need some time to heal,” Bright said. “We’re going to continue to work on it. It’ll be months from now that we will still be picking up limbs and getting it to where we can even cut the grass. It’s just not going to look as beautiful as it ordinarily does when people come back so I think they will understand, and time will take care of it.”

The Bright’s said they will announce the official reopening date on their Facebook page.

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