MAPLESVILLE VOLUNTEERS HELP FARMER RESCUE CATTLE TRAPPED IN BARN HIT BY TORNADO
MAPLESVILLE, Ala., Jan. 23 -- As he walked through the debris that was once his cattle barn, Chilton County Farmers Federation President Jimmy Parnell was smiling. Although there was devastation all around him Monday morning, he considered himself lucky.
|Workers move debris from a collapsed barn at Parnell Farm in Chilton County in search of cattle that survived an early morning tornado.|
"None of my family was hurt, and there weren't any serious injuries in my community," Parnell said. "This can all be replaced. I'm thankful and amazed that no one was killed."
Parnell said he awoke to the sound of sirens at his home about five miles west of where his barn is located on Alabama Highway 22.
"We had no electricity, none of the phones worked and the Internet wouldn't work. We were at a loss," he said.
Within minutes his daughter, Anna Grace, was able to connect to the Internet and learned that a tornado had struck in downtown Maplesville — near the headquarters of Parnell's cattle farm. They arrived at the barn about 6 a.m. as day began to break.
"When I saw this I was shocked, but I thought about how much worse it could have been," said Parnell's wife, Robin. "Then I heard a calf mooing, and my heart just broke."
Within minutes more than 60 men armed with chainsaws began cutting away lumber to free the trapped cattle.
"This was a three-story building and all three floors were collapsed down on top of about 20 calves," Parnell said. "We used this barn for a lot of things. We load and unload cattle here, and we have pens for sick cattle — sort of like an intensive care unit. Thanks to all the help we had, we had all the calves out in about an hour."
Parnell admits that his timber business was key in getting things cleared away so quickly.
"The big equipment really helped," he said. "The first thing was to make sure we could free all the calves. Actually, I was shocked that any of them survived. Best we can tell, we only lost one. Now, we're going back through the piles and trying to salvage what we can.
"We don't know what will happen next, but we will clean up and start over. It will take a few days."
When asked about rebuilding, he said the property was insured.
"By Alfa, thank goodness," he said.
The Alabama Farmers Federation and Alfa Insurance communications team was in Jefferson County Monday afternoon as claims adjusters delivered checks to families who lost their homes during the deadly storms. Look for more storm updates here or follow us at www.facebook.com/alfafarmers and www.facebook.com/alfainsurance.