TORNADO DESTROYS FEDERATION FAMILY'S FARM
MONTGOMERY, Ala. -- The south Montgomery County cattle farm of Mike and Denise Henry, the Alabama Farmers Federation's Outstanding Young Farm Family of 2005, was hit by a tornado around 11 a.m. Wednesday, destroying about 95 percent of the operation.
|Mike Henry surveys damage to his Pintlala farm.|
No one was hurt by the storm that left the peaceful Pintlala farming community in a shambles. With power lines and fallen trees stretching across U.S. 31, wrecked buildings, twisted metal and cattle standing knee deep in water at the feed trough, the Henrys' farm reminded Mitch Henry, Mike's brother, of a war zone.
"This IS Osama Bin Laden," said Mitch Henry as he and others worked in pouring rain to salvage what little equipment they could from the Henrys' shop.
Just minutes earlier, as the winds begin to blow, Mike Henry had stepped outside his parents' home to see what the weather was doing. "My cousin's car was bouncing up and down so I went back into the house," he said. "After a few minutes, my wife called and I went outside to try to get better phone reception, and it had cleared up but everything was blown away."
The roof was completely torn off the Henrys' commodity barn, although he expects to be able to salvage some feed from it. Also gone were three tenant houses, their main working facility, a shed for weaned cattle, the farm's shop, and some outside storage buildings.
A pair of old, unused 60-foot silos was ripped in half. "I'm sure glad no cattle were under those," said Mike.
"It's pretty much shut down our feed system and our cattle-working facility," said Henry, who along with his father and brothers, raises beef cattle, and operates a custom pre-conditioning business for weaned calves.
"We got some feed stored somewhere else. We'll use it. Our feed truck was under one of the barns -- it got smashed up, but I think we are going to be able to use it to feed with. We just got to repair fences and keep the cows in, and keep hay and what feed we can to them until we can pick up everything."
"It's about 95 percent gone," said Mike as he surveyed the wreckage behind his parents' home, which was apparently untouched. "We've got some fences that are still up, but that's about it. The big barn over there has been hit by three tornadoes and a hurricane, and we've replaced it all four times ... I think we're going to have to start over this time."
"First of all, pray for us," said Mike when asked if there was anything Federation members could do to help. "We thank God that nobody was hurt. That's the biggest thing. None of the cattle got hurt, and we're blessed that way.
"It's just going to take a lot of picking up. I think we'll be able to manage it. We've got a lot of folks already here, and just keep us in your prayers. It'll just take some time to pick up and go. We've got cattle fixing to go out in two weeks. That's going to be interesting to see if we can pull everything together to get those cattle gone."
Mike and Denise Henry and their five children were named the 2005 Outstanding Young Farm Family of Alabama during the Alabama Farmers Federation's 84th annual meeting in Mobile last December. The Henrys were selected to compete for the award after being named the Outstanding Young Farm Family in the Beef Division earlier this year.