By By MARY-ALLISON LANCASTER – Managing editor
One death was reported and more than a dozen buildings sustained structural damage when a tornado ripped through Belleville near Alabama Highway 12 Friday morning.
Conecuh County EMA director Heather Walton said that the tornado was confined to one area.
Belleville Fire Department Chief Sid Lambert stood in front of the destroyed fire department Friday afternoon. He said that since he's been chief for 16 years he's never seen a tornado like the one that tore through the community Friday.
The volunteer fire department building, which has been around for several decades, was practically razed. Cinder blocks were strewn about and the fire engine was exposed to the elements from within. Chief Lambert said that there are eight volunteer firemen that work at the department. For now, they are relying on surrounding cities to help out with their operations.
Walton said that they are relying on the community and anyone willing to donate to rebuild the fire department.
Walton and Chief Lambert did confirm one fatality but would not release the name Friday afternoon. However, Chief Lambert said that a female was inside her home and her chimney fell on her. Neighbors said that the woman who died was Betty Williams. No other information was available when The Standard went to press late Friday.
Mark Dunn was visiting relatives when the tornado hit. His aunt, Joyce Dunn, was inside her home cooking spaghetti when the tornado hit. She said she hid in her bathtub during the tornado.
People in the community could be seen walking in packs and talking on their cell phones. One person said “it's total destruction up here.”
Jamie Watkins was walking with her toddler and said that she wasn't at home at the time, but she hurried back to check on her home, which is fine. Southern Pine trucks were deployed to the area to quickly restore damaged power lines.
Adjacent county EMA directors and AEMA had prepared a Mobile Command Vehicle for local officials to coordinate assistance to provide to the area. Volunteer agencies were also coordinating a mobile feeding kitchen to serve throughout the response effort.