‘You can’t help but be emotional’: Oak tree ends up in kitchen of Chilton County home

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CHILTON COUNTY, Ala. (WIAT) — Chilton County was hit hard by Hurricane Zeta overnight Wednesday and into Thursday.

Downed powerlines and trees kept first responders busy all night. To complicate their response further, the storm knocked out the 911 lines, forcing them to reroute calls through Shelby County.

Some of the worst damage in the county was in Clanton. Power is still out for portions of the county. The EMA director said residents should be prepared to wait on its restoration.

“Hopefully they are able to get some crews in and get power back,” said Chilton County EMA Director Derrick Wright. “I would at least prepare for 48 hours if I was a citizen without power.”

Homeowners in Clanton are worried their house may be a total loss. A century-old oak tree now leans into their kitchen.

“It’s hardly unbelievable, that we got out of here, unharmed,” said Randy Rockett.

Rockett said he grew up in the home since he was two. Now, he just hopes he can save it.

“You can’t help but be emotional. Just look. Everywhere you look is destroyed,” he said.

He said he was up at midnight on Wednesday because they lost power. He was keeping an eye on their large oak tree, then watched it come crashing into the kitchen.

“It is sentimental. This is home. You never want to see your home destroyed like this. Home is home.”

Rockett said God brought them through the storm and God will get them through the recovery.

“There’s no doubt that we are highly blessed. We are blessed that we came out unharmed. The house was not hurt any worse than it was, and that we live until tomorrow.”

Rockett and his wife Judy said they will be staying the night at Judy’s 96-year-old mother’s house, about a mile down the road.

If the house is not a total loss, Rockett plans to rebuild it.

Chilton County 911 lines are back up and running. No serious injuries were reported in the area. To complicate the response even further, the EMA director currently has COVID-19. Thursday is his final day of quarantine. Wright was still able to respond and help others, just six feet away.


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