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May 17, 2010   Email to Friend 

Alfa Responds Quickly To North Alabama Tornadoes
Debra Davis and Kevin Worthington

Alfa Adjuster Rob Brooks, left, and Agent Jason Simpson, right, talk with Susan and Bryan Breedwell on the site where their home once stood. The Breedwells lost their home and three cars in the storm April 24.
In less than 30 seconds, Bryan and Susan Breedwell lost all their worldly possessions when a tornado ripped through their neighborhood three miles east of Albertville about 10:30 p.m., April 24. Despite that, the couple says they are blessed and glad they have Alfa Insurance.

The storm that began in Louisiana did heavy damage there and devastated parts of Mississippi before it tore through Alabama. The National Weather Service said twisters injured more than 30 people in Marshall and DeKalb counties that night and had peak winds of 140 mph. It was on the ground for about 18.5 miles and was three-quarters of a mile wide at its largest. The weather service also confirmed tornado paths in Walker, Cullman, Blount, Jefferson and Lamar counties.

Two days after the storm, the Breedwells, along with their three daughters, watched heavy equipment load the tangled debris that was once their home into dump trucks. Alfa Adjuster Rob Brooks guided them through the claims process and Adjuster Bryan Hornbuckle had already delivered them a check for emergency clothing. The Breedwells home and three cars, all insured by Alfa, were a total loss. The storm lifted their house, with them huddled in the hallway, off its foundation and carried it more than 150 feet before dumping it on the other side of the street in their subdivision.

Susan recalled the moments leading up to the experience.

"The warning siren went off and we got the girls into the hallway," she said. "Bryan went to the back door and looked out. When he came back, he told us it was coming, and it was going to be bad. The girls started to cry and Bryan started to pray."

Susan said she felt the house lift off the ground. Even though it lasted only a few seconds, it seemed like a lifetime. Her emotions surfaced as she recalled the storm.

"We felt the walls squeezing in on us," she said, holding back tears. "We could hear the rafters cracking and boards snapping, and then we heard part of the roof come off."

After the house sat down with a thud, the family crawled through part of the roof debris in darkness.

"It was pitch black and we didn't have on any shoes or a flashlight," Susan said. "It was so scary because we didn't even know how far the house had traveled."

Lights from a neighbor's truck helped guide them to safety. Homes just a few feet away were barely damaged.

"I called the Alfa office the next morning and was glad to find out they were working that day, even though it was Sunday," Susan said. "They gave us a claims number and advice on what to do. When we met with them on Monday, the adjuster wrote us a check for clothing and helped us get through the rest of the process. Everyone with Alfa has been so good to us. We lost everything, but it could have been so much worse."

Alfa Senior Vice President of Claims Jerry Johnson said within four days of the storm, Alfa had received just over 1,300 claims. Additional adjusters were sent to north Alabama to expedite claims and Alfa's mobile response unit was dispatched to Albertville.

"The Breedwells tragedy is one all of us hope we never experience," Johnson said. "But if it does, we want our policyholders to know we'll be there as soon as possible to help lessen the pain they've experienced and to help them start over."

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