Town Creek on the mend: survivors still in recovery, cleanup efforts see progress

Town Creek authorities and local volunteers continue clearing debris left from an EF2 tornado that destroyed three mobile homes along County Road 265 on Dec. 16. The tornado claimed two lives and injured four others when it struck the small community that lies within Town Creek’s police jurisdiction. 

One of the four Town Creek tornado survivors who were hospitalized following the events of a Dec. 16 storm was released and sent to a rehabilitation facility this week, according to Town Creek Police Chief Jerry Garrett. Three others remain hospitalized as cleanup efforts continue in the community.

Rhonda and Wayne Lovett were airlifted to the University of Alabama at Birmingham Hospital after they were both injured in an EF2 tornado that struck their home on County Road 265, also known as Blue Hollow Road.

Though Rhonda Lovett was released this week after undergoing numerous surgeries and sustaining multiple head wounds and broken bones from the tornado, her husband’s condition is little changed, according to Police Chief Garrett.

Wayne Lovett was initially placed in intensive care with major damage to an eye and bleeding in the brain. Garrett said Lovett is breathing on his own but remains in critical care.

Landen Godsey, the 8-year-old who lost his parents, Keisha Cross Godsey and Justin Chase Godsey, in the same storm, is “opening his eyes some and making improvements,” Garrett said.

The young Moulton Elementary student remains at Children’s Hospital in Birmingham, but doctors are optimistic he will make a full recovery, according to reports from Town Creek Mayor Mike Parker.

Marcus Johnson, a fourth tornado survivor who lost his home to the storms, saw some improvements but is back on a ventilator at Huntsville Hospital, according to Garrett. He reported on Johnson’s condition last week and said the hospital was readying him for rehab, but complications saw the patient moved back to Huntsville’s Critical Care Unit on Dec. 30.

“He took a turn for the worse the other day,” Garrett said.

A Go Fund Me account was set up to aid the victims who all lost their homes on County Road 265. Garrett said the account sits around $21,000 as of Tuesday, not accounting for a couple of checks he said he still has to deposit into the fund.

“We plan to split everything evenly among each of the victims,” he added. “Our goal is $60,000, which would bring $20,000 to each of the survivors.”

He said a singing that was held last week at Courtland Baptist Church to benefit the patients brought in about $19,000.

“The Methodist Church put the event on, but it was actually held at the Baptist Church because of seating. I wasn’t able to make it, but I heard the turnout was tremendous,” he said.

Garrett said he was not certain the church plans to designate the $19,000 to the Go Fund Me account, but the funds were raised for the tornado victims.

Those interested in donating to the fund may do so at https://www.gofundme.com/f/lovettjohnsongodsey-disaster-relief.

Garrett said he also felt tremendous support from surrounding communities and volunteers during the cleanup effort along Blue Hollow Road.

“This week, we’ve been cleaning up, and we’ve really made progress,” he said. “We’ve still got a ways to go, but we’ve definitely made some visible headway.”

The chief listed several who have come to aid, including the city of Hanceville who sent two trucks Monday morning, a Nucor Disaster Relief group who provided skid-steers, chainsaws and other equipment, and Majestic Construction, a private contractor out of Decatur who donated a truck to assist for a day this week.

“The Baptist Association for Disaster Relief, they’ve been here with equipment all along, and they’re still showing up,” Garrett added. “The Methodist sent a disaster team the first day—I’m scared I’m leaving someone out. Moulton is supposed to be bringing brush trucks (Tuesday).”

District 4 Commissioner Bobby Burch said the county has spent $25,000 on tornado cleanup since December, not including several roll-off dumpsters that were brought to the site and the trucks used to transport them.

He said Emergency Management Director Johnny Cantrell helped organize meetings with Hanceville Mayor Kenneth Nail.

“(Nail) messaged me the night of the storms asking how they could help. It’s unbelievable how much they’ve made a difference,” Burch said. “When the government does not declare a state of emergency, relief is dependent upon community volunteers. Our firefighters, churches, and individual volunteers are the backbone of our community.”

 

 

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