Miracles in Brewton: Man inside tumbling trailer survives, couple huddles under mattress while storm shreds house

State / Regional

UPDATE 10 AM 6/21/21: Hank Riddle says he was released from the hospital late Sunday night. Riddle says he’s more bruised than he expected but should recover. He’s returned to living at another mobile home near where his blew away on Riddle Road in Brewton.

ORIGINAL STORY: BREWTON, Ala. (WKRG) — People in a small community in Brewton are happy to be alive after Saturday’s storms. Some barely made it out of their wrecked homes to tell the tale and one man is still recovering in the hospital.

WKRG News 5’s Chad Petri checked out storm damage along Riddle Road. The riddle here is how did some people survive? Homeowners believe this was the same storm that struck East Brewton nearby on the same morning. 70-year-old Hank Riddle was in his mobile home Saturday morning when the storm alert popped up at around 7 a.m. Then winds lifted his home.

“The trailer just exploded, that’s the only way I can describe it,” said Hank Riddle via phone from his hospital room. Hank Riddle’s trailer sat upon a pedestal. Saturday’s high winds tossed it hundreds of feet. As it moved, it was shredded. Years of possessions and appliances were strewn across the field turned to scrap. The storm sent him flying. Riddle’s grandson was the first on the scene.

“I knew he was dead until I saw his head pop up, then I was happy, I knew he was alive,” said Brandon Thompson describing the miracle. Hank Riddle lost his home and a lifetime of stuff but he’s just happy he has a life to continue

“I’m mighty glad I survived it. I’ll tell you that, it was a scary thing but it was so fast you didn’t have time to be scared,” Riddle said. WKRG News 5’s Chad Petri talked to Riddle as he recovers in a Florida hospital and spoke to family members as they salvaged what they could.

“It’s devastating, my father worked so hard for everything he had and I’m still in shock sir,” said Hank Riddle’s daughter Charlotte Collins. She said she’s grateful for the community’s help in the aftermath of this disaster.

Across the street, the storm gutted this home. Mary Carmichael showed me what’s left from the inside. She says she and her husband took cover under a mattress as parts of their home crashed on top of them. Terrifying seconds felt like hours.

“When it was pulling us off the floor, just pulling us, you didn’t think it was going to stop,” Carmichael said.

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