Campers Recount Tornado at Alabama Campground

July 18, 2011 by   - () Comments Off on Campers Recount Tornado at Alabama Campground

Cheney Fox saw a wall of water on the lake April 27 as he and his son, Dustin, watched from the boat ramp in the slough at Coosahatchee Campground near Ohatchee, Ala.

“I told Dustin, ‘That’s a tornado, and it’s coming straight for us,’” Fox said last week. “The clouds were low, and you couldn’t see the funnel profile. Then it looked like it turned maybe 10 degrees.”

What he didn’t realize until later was where the water had come from, The Gadsen Times reported.

Just before Fox saw the wall of water, he watched houses in the Shoal Creek Valley explode across Neely Henry Lake from where he stood.

“The debris was just sucked up in the clouds,” he said.

Fox and his son and another camper, Ron Skinner, ran toward the campground’s storm shelter.

“Then we saw trees start laying over, and I told Ron, ‘We’ve got to go in here, and get in here now,’” Fox said.

Skinner was the last one in the concrete shelter built in 2007 by campground owner Dennis Twigg.

Skinner held the door, still slightly open, and they saw tree tops and debris. Then he latched the door.

The ground shook and vibrated for about 10 seconds, he recalled.

“It was over in 15 to 30 seconds,” Fox said.

Just before the tornado hit, Fox had listened to a weather radio and knew it possibly was headed right for the Coosahatchee Campground, where he has lived in a camper for about a year while working on the construction of the National Guard Readiness Center on Pelham Range.

Fox, from Hickory, N.C., works for Baggette Construction in Decatur.

“We started listening to that radio and telling everybody at the campground to head to the storm shelter,” he said.

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