Friday storms darken thousands of homes

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, May 7, 2003

High winds and vivid lightening swept through Greenville Friday night knocking down trees and knocking out power to several thousand households in Butler county.

The storm, which contained hail as well as high winds, toppled several large trees in the city of Greenville, including the area around L.V. Stabler Hospital and Greenville Elementary School. Neither the hospital nor the school was damaged.

Greenville Director of Public Works Milton Luckie said his crew was out in force to clean up the debris left by the storm.

&uot;We had some trees down on Woodland drive that took out a pole and a bunch of power lines,&uot; he said. &uot;We also had (a tree) down at 10 West at the hospital and had downed power lines there as well.&uot;

Officials from Pioneer Electric and Alabama Power said their crews were dispatched immediately to deal with the power outages caused by the high winds, lightening and falling trees.

&uot;We had about 1,100 folks without power Friday night,&uot; said Pioneer Electric spokesperson Terri Wilhite. &uot;The most heavily affected areas were from Cambrian Ridge west, but within about two hours we had electricity restored.&uot;

A spokesperson for Alabama Power said more than 4,000 of their customers were affected by power outages, but the majority of customers had their power back on in three hours.

&uot;In some cases where we had trees down some customers were without power for about eight hours,&uot; said Jan Ellis, with Alabama Power. &uot;The majority of the outages were in our east Greenville area and our linemen worked all through the night to restore power.&uot;

Greenville Chief of Police Lonzo Ingram said his staff mainly assisted the street department with traffic control, but he said the incident highlights the need for a better storm warning system for city residents.

&uot;We really need to expand our warning system so that more people can hear the sirens,&uot; he said. We've only got the one siren at city hall. Years ago it was used as a general siren for the volunteer fire department. We need to expand our warning system and have several sirens strategically located throughout the city so we can let our people know.&uot;