Cleanup begins in Oak Village after Thursday’s storms

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The dust is still settling in the Hale County neighborhood of Oak Village after much of it was destroyed in Thursday’s storms.

When we turned onto oak village road, the smell of freshly cut pines and the sounds of heavy equipment filled the vehicle.

Oak Village residents are wasting no time on recovery efforts, cutting up trees, hauling off debris, throwing tarps onto houses and getting utilities reconnected.

On Thursday, Anthony Blevins wasn’t sure how long it would take to get the ball rolling on his recovery efforts. Less than 24 hours later, he had already made tremendous progress.

“Just got excavators out here cleaning trees and got people tarping the house, trying to clean the mess up,” Blevins said.

Blevins’ neighbor William Lee’s river home almost ended up in the river.

“It’s a total loss,” Lee said. “It blew the place completely off the foundation. It blew the surrounding porch and buildings we had around it almost into the river. Another 15 feet, it would have been in the river you know.”

Multiple insurance agencies were also in the area Friday.

Hale County Emergency Management Agency Director Russell Weeden said he’s impressed by the quick response.

“We are really having a great response not just from first responders, but from neighbors helping neighbors,” Weeden said. “There’s a lot of equipment out here. So, I am very pleased with the outcome of people who have come not just from Hale County, but from other counties.”

Those impacted are staying optimistic about the future amid all the chaos.

“There’s no sense in being negative,” Blevins said. “It is what it is. Just try to build back better and move on to the next day. Everybody is healthy and alive and that is all that matters.”

Weeden said at least 20 homes were destroyed during Thursday’s storms in Hale County.

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