Damage widespread among businesses, industries

Benjamin Bullard and David Palmer The Cullman Times - Mar 21, 2018

 shoe show

Stores in the Marketplatz shopping center sustained damage from the hail storm Monday night. 

The commission’s declaration of emergency follows Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey’s emergency declaration for North Alabama counties affected by the storms, which dropped grapefruit-sized hail over portions of Cullman County and wrought extensive property damage.

Commissioners and department heads will have a better idea of the storm’s financial impact once insurance assessors have surveyed the damage. The Cullman County Sheriff’s Office sustained damage to at least 20 vehicles, as well as significant damage to the roof, nine air conditioning units mounted on the rooftop, and exterior siding and fireproofing insulation at its Beech Avenue headquarters, including the newly-built Training Center, as well as the Cullman County Detention Center.

Vehicle and structural damage also affected the Cullman County Emergency Management Agency, the Cullman County Water Department, and the court referral office, where the hail knocked out skylights and allowed water to enter the building.

EMA director Phyllis Little said several outreach agencies including the Red Cross, the United Methodist Association, and the Salvation Army were in Cullman Tuesday afternoon to help place roof tarps and provide other practical assistance to private property owners who sustained hail damage at their homes and places of business.

United Way of Cullman Director Sammie Danford said the agency is asking for donations to go directly to local storm relief.

“Any donations designated for relief from this storm will be used 100 percent for that purpose, with no administrative costs,” Danford said.

Commissioners said they will work quickly to secure a contractor to repair structural breaches and prevent water damage, as well as the onset of mold and mildew at the Sheriff’s Office and other county offices. The emergency declaration allows the commission to expedite that work through the solicitation of sealed bids, rather than the more time-consuming process of advertising for bids.

The commission approved the declaration on a vote of 2-0. Associate Commissioner Garry Marchman was out of town and did not attend the emergency meeting.

Cullman Mayor Woody Jacobs said many industries and businesses have broken windows and leaks after the storm.

“We have no idea at this time what the cost of all this will be, but it may surprise people when it’s accounted for,” Jacobs said. “We have industries with roofs leaking and other businesses having to replace windows and deal with leaks. And of course the damage to homes and personal vehicles is widespread.”

The Cullman Police Department reported four vehicles damaged by hail during the peak of the storm, but few other city vehicles, other than the mayor’s car, were damaged, Jacobs said.

The Cullman Parks and Recreation Department also reported damage to several facilities including the Wellness & Aquatic Center, Donald Green Senior Center and Heritage Park. 

Parks & Recreation Director Nathan Anderson said work is under way to have Heritage Park ready for softball and baseball teams to use. The Aquatic Center opened.

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