Capron woman, daughter visit ravaged Alabama

Published 9:11 am Friday, April 29, 2011

COLUMBIANA, Ala.—By the time Capron resident Allison Rawls’ plane landed at Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport in her native Alabama, the damage had been done.

Wednesday’s tornadoes that ravaged the state, leaving 185 dead and up to a million without power, had passed and actually allowed her flight to make a safe landing at around 12:20 a.m. Thursday.

“We got there for the calm after the storm,” said Rawls, who moved to Southampton County in 2000 after meeting and marrying her husband, John.

Allison Rawls and her daughter, Reese, 6, spent the evening being diverted and delayed, but eventually made it to visit her father, Tommy Rowe, in Columbiana, Ala.

Rawls left Norfolk at 6:47 p.m. Wednesday, but her flight was diverted from Charlotte, N.C., to Philadelphia because of severe weather.

“I was shocked and amazed the flight got out,” Rawls said.

She tried to stay in contact with family while waiting in the airport, but phone calls were not an option.

“My biggest concern was my family,” said Rawls, who works for Bronco Federal Credit Union in Franklin. “I stayed close to Facebook to make sure everyone was OK. My dad did a really good job of keeping in touch.”

Rawls’ half-brother, Chris Lucas, and his wife, Jennifer, were safe in Cullman, Ala., but their home and back yard were damaged.

“A tornado took out everything in their yard and everything around them,” she said. “There was minimal damage to the house.”

They expect to be without power for at least four days and have had to travel up to 40 miles to find gas for a generator.

“There are lines and lines of people waiting for gas,” Rawls said.

She plans to stay in Alabama for the weekend and help out before attending the Crawfish Boil music festival in Birmingham.