Irksome Isaac: Weather system arrives, limbs start falling

Published 12:06 am Thursday, August 30, 2012

LAUREN WOOD / THE NATCHEZ DEMOCRAT — Adams County Supervisor Calvin Butler, left, talks to a police officer regarding the tree that had fallen on one of his rental homes Wednesday afternoon on West Stiers Lane. Terry Alexander, who lives in the home, was in the living room when the tree fell. No one was injured.

NATCHEZ — Like a good neighbor, Marcus Jackson was there.

He’s no State Farm agent, but Jackson was insurance enough for the owners of The Wedding Mart on East Franklin Street Wednesday as the first bands of Tropical Storm Isaac invited themselves to town.

Jackson, the owner of Jackson’s On-site Mobile Detailing located across the street from The Wedding Mart, heard that the store’s windows had been broken in the storm’s high winds. The store was closed, and merchandise was getting wet.

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Rather than let his neighbors cut their losses, Jackson crossed the street, entered the business through its broken display window and began to move merchandise away from the elements.

By the time owner Rosa Demby arrived from her house in Vidalia, Jackson had managed to save the store’s expensive electronic wares.

LAUREN WOOD/THE NATCHEZ DEMOCRAT — Rosa Demby, who owns The Wedding Mart, with her husband Melvin, looks ouut of the broken window of the storefront Wednesday afternoon after the glass shattered in the high winds caused by the arrival of Tropical Storm Isaac.

“That’s what you call a good neighbor,” Demby said, gesturing toward Jackson as he helped her husband, Melvin Demby and a third man, Johnny Longmire, nail plywood over the paneless window frame.

The store lost a few of its floral arrangements and some vases to the wind, but Demby said it was otherwise untouched.

This isn’t the first time Demby has lost a window to a hurricane. During Hurricane Katrina, all of the store’s display windows broke in a similar matter, she said.

The store’s construction, coupled with the drop in pressure outside, built up against the window until it broke under the push of the store’s internal pressure, Demby said.

“It was like a bomb went off is what they told me,” she said.

Demby’s “bomb” was one of the first in the area, but others soon followed, increasing in succession as the night wore on and Isaac settled in.

By 5:15 p.m., the county had observed wind gusts of 39 miles per hour and had received approximately three-quarters of an inch of rain since 1:30 p.m., Adams County Emergency Manager Stan Owens said.

Sixteen reports of downed limbs and trees had been reported in the county. County Road Manager Robbie Dollar said the downed trees were in all areas of the county, and that all county road crews were out trying to keep the roads open.

“If the weather gets too bad we will have to make a decision for the safety of the guys (to get off the roads), but we will still have 24-hour call out guys,” Dollar said.

Natchez Entergy Customer Service Manager Tim Runnels said Wednesday evening the outages in the area were steadily increasing as the night went on.

More than 800 customers were without power at 6:30 p.m., and repair crews had been pulled off the roadways due to dangerous winds.

The crews cannot safely operate the bucket trucks with winds higher than 35 mph, Runnels said.

The worst hit areas, Runnels said, were on Palestine Road and West Stiers Lane, but the most people out of power at one time was a couple hundred.

“We’re expecting a lot of trouble (today),” he said.

Entergy has 125 extra people in Natchez that will be working to restore power throughout the storm when it is safe for them to do so.

Runnels encouraged anyone who comes across a downed power line to stay away from it and report it to Entergy at 1-800-968-8243.

At 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, Southwest Mississippi Electric Power Association spokeswoman Azalea Knight said Adams County had 1,100 meters out of service, while Wilkinson County had 560 meters and Jefferson County had 380 meters with disrupted service.

More outages were most likely, though, Owens said, with an expected rainfall of up to 10 inches in some areas and sustained winds of 39-40 hours with gusts even higher.

The storm was expected to grow in strength through the night and last at least until daybreak, Owens said.

Terry Alexander was sitting in her living room on West Stiers Lane Wednesday afternoon with her daughters Mailedy Wilson and Annie Norton when Wilson pointed out to her how a tree was swaying across the street.

“I said to her, ‘That tree is just going to do that,’ and as soon as I said it I heard a crack and something falling,” Alexander said.

A loud crash followed by ceiling tiles falling sent the women running to the back of the house, screaming to Alexander’s son Jeremy and her grandsons Al and Chancellor Norton, who were in another room, to get out.

“We all got out safe, thank Jehovah,” Alexander said.

The family tried to work with the remaining daylight and flashlights to remove pictures and other things they would not be able to replace before the storm comes more fully into the area.

They will be staying at Norton’s house in Morgantown, Alexander said.

Adams County Supervisor Calvin Butler said the house is one of his rental properties, the second of which was struck by downed trees or limbs Wednesday.

“I got a call, and they said, ‘Hey, your house got hit by a tree,’ and I said, ‘I already fixed it,’” Butler said. “Then they said, ‘No, your other house.’”