Florida Today from Cocoa, Florida on September 17, 2004 · Page 7
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Florida Today from Cocoa, Florida · Page 7

Cocoa, Florida
Issue Date:
Friday, September 17, 2004
Page 7
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FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 17, 2004 7A HURRICANE IVAN Latest updates at www.floridatoday.com Tornado leaves trail of death, dama FLORIDA TODAY ee Couple among 4 who die in Calhoun County ASSOCIATED PRESS BLOUNTSTOWN Harold and Mary Leigh Marshall were 90 minutes from starting their overnight shifts at the Calhoun Correctional Institution when the longtime prison workers and two neighbors were killed by a tornado tearing across their rural road, where houses were intermingled with small farms. Harold Marshall was five days from his 42nd birthday when the twister spawned by Hurricane Ivan snapped the trunks of large pine trees on a 200-yard swath across dairies, cotton and corn farms and the occasional home north of the Calhoun County seat, home to 2,400 people. Nikki Dawsey, who lives about three-quarters of a mile from the homes where people died, said her uncle Melvin Terry, in his early 50s, and a cousin Donna, in her mid-30s, were killed when five members of the family took shelter in one mobile home. Her aunt Frances was critically injured, and two cousins suffered broken bones. Neighbors tried to help neighbors in the worst of the onslaught Wednesday night. "One of our neighbors called us and told us they were penned in," said Sharlyn Smith, whose husband, William "Buddy" Smith, headed into their pasture to help. He discovered downed electrical lines but found a hole where a fence went down, and he climbed across. "The cattle got out. Lines were all in our pasture and debris, and we couldn't get to them," Sharlyn Smith said. "Our first neighbor and husband managed to get out the windows." i Selective damage The tornado sent boats, trailers and furniture flying but turned selective at the Marshalls' house, about 45 miles west of Tallahassee. Their mobile home "was gone, but the three cars were there," Sharlyn Smith said. "The trailer was just like somebody had stolen it:" Just after the worst of the weather passed, a man in a pickup pulled into Dawsey's yard and said the tornado had turned his truck around and flattened a tire. He also said the trailers down the road had been wiped out. Dawsey set out to check on her relatives, but she couldn't get through one way and tried another, only to find a tree blocking the darkened road. "I just jumped out of the truck and ran down here. Everything was gone. At the time, I couldn't tell. I couldn't see all this," she Federal IFive days out, most storms remain mysteries ASSOCIATED PRESS MIAMI The federal government's five-day hurricane forecast gave Floridians more time to prepare for this year's onslaught of storms, but local officials said the year-old program had little effectontheirpreparations. The National Hurricane Center's forecast extended the three-day projections used since 1964 so the U.S. Navy would have more time to move equipment out of danger and to give residents an earlier heads-up when storms were looming. But local officials said the additional warning on their preparations has had a negligible effect because the forecast is so broad and includes such a wide area. The five-day forecast gives us a focus on things a bit further out, but I'd say the focus is not highly in focus. The focus knob needs a turn or two," said Larry Halsey, spokesman for rural Jefferson County. Escambia County waited to evacuate about 130,000 homes in low-lying bay and coastal areas until Hurricane Ivan appeared to be just over one day from landfall county spokeswoman Sonya Smith said. And Monroe County followed years-old procedures when evacuating tourists and residents three days before Ivan was forecast to hit the Florida Keys last week, said Irene Toner, the county's emergency management director. ! .-X i v til Blountstown. Wilford Webb comforts his wife, Sheila, as they sort through the remains snails died when a tornado spawned by Hurricane Ivan of the mobile home of her aunt and uncle, Mary Leigh and Harold Marshall. The Mar- Blountstown in Calhoun County late Wednesday night. "I really don't know what to think right now. Fm kind of still in shock, but Fmjustthankful that we left and that Fmhere. Fm very thankfiil to be alive." SantanaStillivan,19, who spent Wednesday night at her mother's home in Jackson County with her fiance, Chris Ammom said, pointing to the debris. "I could just tell there weren't structures there." Bending over rubble in a field Thursday, Dawsey said it looked as if the Terrys' mobile home had slammed into the neighbor's house, where two people survived. "I lost my uncle and cousin. My aunt's still fighting. We don't know if she's going to live or not," she said. Santana Sullivan, 19, and her fiance, Chris Amnions, lived in a mobile home between the Marshalls and the othervictims. "We were going to stay because he had to work in the morning, but my mom threw a fit," she said. They spent the night at her forecast provides Panama ma City. People walk through a tornado-damaged area on Panama City Beach on Thursday. Hurri-Ivan passed through the area late Wednesday night, with tornadoes leading the way. cane In both cases, officials said the margin of error of the five-day forecast about 370 miles in either direction makes it an unreliable planning tool, and they would rather wait until the forecast tightens. Ivan's eye came ashore early Thursday near Gulf Shores, Ala., about 250 miles west of the center of the five-day forecast, within the predicted error. "We know that far out, any slight movement in the storm means big variations," Smith said. "We really have to wait until we get into 72-plus hours out." That's not to say people aren't paying attention. Smith said by V j '5 ' - - t mother's sturdier house in Jackson County and returned Thursday to find their single-wide trailer had vanished. Standing on the side of the road, she recognized her recliner in a pile of rubble. Her bathroom sink was in the field, where one of Ammons' T-shirts flapped in a tree. "I really don't know what to think right now. I'm kind of still in shock, but I'm just thankful that we left and that I'm here. I'm very thankful to be alive," Sullivan said. Dr. Carol Sutton, who lives with her husband on a pine tree farm about a mile up the road, drove by the worst of the damage after daybreak. First, they saw a mobile home without a roof on the time county officials met to discuss the storm Sunday, "we were already getting reports that hardware stores were low on plywood." The pervasiveness of ... the picture of this thing moving closer and closer to urban centers, you pick up public attention earlier than you used to," hurricane center spokesman Frank Leporesaid. As the fourth major storm of the season bore down on Florida, residents were intensely watching its path, even when it was several days away. In Perdido Key, at the western tip of the Panhandle, customers at a local bar - V vJ top of the hill, and another that looked like it had been picked up and set down again. "Then you go further down and, where all the mobile homes were, there's nothing," said the Port St. Joe clinic doctor, who sat praying in her bedroom closet as the tornado passed. A pecan tree landed on a shed, and a juniper tree broke in half behind their house. But she was astonished by something unexpected that didn't belongto her. "We just found a quilt by our pigpens," said Sutton. The Smiths were still hemmed in Thursday, but their home is intact. "We had a farmhouse up at the beginning where we come in. It's totaled and all our sheds are warning, t til) W .-y?: -J Ir i & I'll U V'.a were watching reports on Hurricane Ivan two days before the storm was forecast to land. "WeVe been watching it for at least seven or eight days," said Steve Hodges, 49, a merchant seaman. "I'll be glad when this durn thing's over with. I'm getting tired of watching The Weather Channel." Though forecasting terms like "wobble," "cone of uncertainty," and "computer models" fall into everyday conversations across the state, many residents in storm-prone areas rely on time-tested folkmeteorology to decide whento evacuate. Some people who refused to L gone," Smith said. "We had a big grain bin back here. It just picked ituplikeatoy." Along its deadly track, the tornado damaged about a dozen homes. "They looked for bodies last night in our field 'til it got where they couldn't see, it was so bad," she said. "We got everything in our pasture from deep freeze refrigerator, beds, boats. You just wouldn't believe what scattered We don't even where our cows, our horses, are right now." Hiding and waiting Wannie Abbott, 56, who lives about a quarter-mile from the Marshalls, hid in the bathroom with his son after hearing on the radio about a tornado nearby and hearing it in person five minutes later. "Power lines down. Pine trees across the roads. All trees in my yard are gone. My roof is gone. Just no trees standing at all hardly," said Abbott, who considers himself "real lucky." "It didn't last but a couple of minutes, but few Pensacola. Employees make their way into Sarah's, a formal dress shop in downtown Pensacola, after it was damaged by Hurricane Ivan on Thursday. leave the Florida Keys, for exam- 10-year Key West resident, said pie, said they were waiting to see confidently as Ivan moved closer where the storm crossed Cuba. to Florida last week. "If it goes to the right side of Mathis theory worked the the Isle of Youth, it will turn to- storm went to the left and missed ward us," Eddie Mathis, a theKeys.B i; $ Emily Barnes, FLORIDA TODAY moved through the area north of maybe three minutes. We could hear all the stuff breaking and tearing off the roof." Surveying the damage at his house nearby, Scott Bontrager said, "It knocked down several of my big trees, and it put a hole in my roof in the back of the house." The Marshalls had spent a third of their lives working at the prison, the town's largest employer. He had 15 years on the job at a place where 334 workers are responsible for about 1,100 prisoners. His 37-year-old wife had been at the prison for 12 years. Harold Marshall supervised prison officers in the low-security work camp adjoining the higher security prison. Mary Leigh Marshall was in charge of officers in the main prison. Both were due at work at 1 1 p.m. The tornado blew into their mobile home at about 9:30 p.m. "It's so sad, especially to lose neighbors," Smith said. Sutton's husband, Phillip Wayne Sutton, said, "WeVe got a mess, but at least we're walking and talking."! specifics

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