‘SAVE ME’: Storm downs trees, buildings in Goshen

Published 3:00 am Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Goshen resident LIllie Wood said she offered up prayers while riding Monday’s storm out in her car.

Goshen resident LIllie Wood said she offered up prayers while riding Monday’s storm out in her car.

Lillie Wood prayed, “Jesus, save me. Please, Jesus, save me.”

Against her daughter’s warnings, Wood rode out Monday’s early evening storm in her car. She was scared and prayed without ceasing, but she stayed right where she was.

Wood, who lives on Perrywood Road in Goshen, was on the phone with her daughter who lives in Atlanta during much of the storm.

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“She kept telling me to go inside but I’ve seen what happens to mobile homes during storms,” Wood said. “I decided if the Lord wanted me, I’d be in the car. I’d rather be in the car than blown away where they’d never find me.”

Wood said she heard roaring and then what sounded like an explosion when a big pecan tree fell. She heard debris hitting the car and, through it all, she kept praying.

“After the storm passed over, I called my daughter and told her I’d made it though,” Wood said.

Other members of Wood’s family had to wait until a tree was removed from the road before they could get to her house.

“It was so dark and I was too scared to go looking around,” Wood said. “I didn’t know until the sun came up that the peanut yard had been hit.”

Wood lives across from Birdsong Peanut Company in Goshen and was shocked to see that metal roofing had been ripped off and scattered around the yard, I-beams had been twisted and peanut wagons were overturned like children’s toys.

Darren Johnson, a member of the Goshen Town Council and Jenna Barnes, local EMA director, surveyed the damage at Birdsong early Tuesday morning.

Johnson said, at first, he thought the damage was caused by straight-line winds but the twisting of the I-beams looked like the work of a “twister.”

Birdsong had closed its Goshen operation except for the warehousing of peanuts so power had been killed at the facility, Johnson said. “Whatever it was — a tornado or straight-line winds, it was powerful. It pulled concrete footers right out of the ground and tossed then a good ways. If house had been it, there would have done a lot of damage and people could have been hurt.”

Barnes said experts with the National Weather Service had surveyed the damage in Goshen and on County Road 4423 and Alabama 125 near Tennille. “It looks like the storm moved northwest from the Tennille area,” she said. “They confirmed straight line winds in Goshen, but they are still investigating to determine if we had any tornado damage. I suspect it will be (Wednesday) before we know for certain.”

The storms moved through Pike County between 5:50 and 6:45 p.m. on Monday, with most of bring wind gusts of up to 70 miles per hour in some areas, heavy lightning and driving, brief rain. There were no reports of injuries.


“I think we had some sporadic power outages, as well as some trees down in areas of the county,” Barnes said. “There were two residences, a house and a mobile home, damaged on Alabama 125. They said in one house the girl was frying French fries on the stove when the tree came through the roof …

“She’s luck she wasn’t injured.”

In Goshen, just up the road from Birdsong, the storm opened a path right though the workshop that belongs to Chris West and Gene McLeod.

“This morning was like Christmas, a real surprise,” McLeod said. “Nobody was here but it blew a hole right through the building.”

The backside of the building was blown into the building and the wind ripped through and knocked out the front of the building leaving two walls and a roof. Damage to equipment inside the building had not been determined.

Jimmy and LaRue Shaver, who live on the Little Oak Road, realized the seriousness of the weather and were trying to get their grandbabies into a safe place.

“The babies didn’t want to cooperate but they got real quiet when there was a loud “whoosh,” and then a lot of noise,” Shaver said. “LaRue thought it was hailing but it was a part of a pine tree that had hit the house and limbs. I was a scary time.”

Shaver didn’t hear roaring like a train, which is the way a tornado sometimes sounds.

“But I believe it was a tornado,” he said. “It picked up the tree and knocked the top out of it. Picked the tree up and the trees across the yard look twisted. Looks like a tornado to me.”