Sheriff rescues couple

Published 1:35 am Monday, September 20, 2004

By By Lydia Grimes
Features reporter
Bill and Linda Whitman are counting their blessings.
The Whitmans, who live on Old Hwy. 31, believe they were hit by at least one tornado as Hurricane Ivan cut his wide path through Alabama.
They decided to ride out the hurricane at home rather than make the trip to Auburn to stay with relatives.
They carried a couple of mattresses into the bathroom and planned to get under them if things got too bad. When the electricity went out about 9 p.m. they went to bed hoping to sleep through the storm.
It wasn't quite so easy for Mrs. Whitman. She was still awake about 1 a.m. when she heard a noise that she described as sounding like "a truck had fallen" on the top of the house. She got up to check and found one whole end of the house leaning. The bathroom in which they had planned to take refuge was completely crushed and tilted to one side. Mr. Whitman managed to pull one of the mattresses out and drag it into their bedroom at the back of the house,
It wasn't long before someone called and said that Sheriff Grover Smith was on his way to their home.
Thursday morning, Sheriff Smith took them back out to the house. Although a tree fell on Mr. Whitman's truck, the couple still had their car and now could drive where they wanted to go. They gathered a few items, moved some things to safety and got some family photographs. They spent the rest of Thursday and Thursday night at the storm shelter at Brewton Elementary School.
Mrs. Whitman is a teacher at Hillcrest High School at Evergreen and was very concerned about all the school data on her computer. They were able to rescue the computer on Friday morning.
Mr. Whitman, who is retired from the Brewton Post Office, was very concerned to find out about his truck and was very disappointed to find it smashed by one of the trees.
The Whitmans planned to stay with family members in Mobile or Auburn until they decide what to do about the home that they loved so much.

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