“It was a rough ride” Man stayed on boat until severe winds damaged Riverwalk Marina

DECATUR Ala. -- The Riverwalk Marina in Decatur was severely damaged from Tuesday night's storm. The docks and boats were slammed by the high gusting winds, some at risk of sinking.

Dozens of boats were damaged, and "B dock" broke loose colliding with "A dock", the severe winds ripping the metal roofs apart.

"We knew early that there was an issue over here," said Chief Anthony Grande, of the Decatur Fire Department. " A lot of damage, but fortunately not a lot of injuries."

While there were no injuries, the fire department had to deal with sinking boats in the marina.

"We have some problems with some boats that are probably gonna get in the water, get sunk," Grande said. "Well, that means fuel, oil and other stuff in the water. We got to take care of that."

The fire department put containment booms in the water, that will absorb the oil and fuel, and keep it from spreading throughout the Tennessee River. The fire chief said they had an extremely high call volume during the storm, but they are grateful there were no injuries. He added they are clearing roads, making sure citizens have access to the Red Cross, and supporting the residents any way they can.

One man stayed inside his boat with the intentions to ride the storm out. Charles Booth has had a boat in the Riverwalk Marina for about four years.

"It was a rough ride," Booth said. "I knew the storm was coming, but I didn't think it would be that bad."

He stayed on his boat Tuesday night as the storm hit. He said he was tracking the lightning to gauge how far away the storm was.

"I started gathering up my stuff, and I got on the phone and then it was basically a loud explosion," Booth said.

That explosion was severe winds ripping the roof off of the docks. "B dock," where his boat was, broke loose and collided into the one next to it. "I thought about leaving, but that sheet metal was flying everywhere," Booth said. "I thought, 'I don't need to be in flying debris.'"

Minutes later he was forced to leave the boat.

"Then the structure started coming down," Booth said. "So I didn't want to be trapped under that." He then evacuated the boat and joined the Decatur Police Department looking for others who may still be on their boats.

 

Brent Peebles grew up on the marina and had a boat docked here for twenty years.

"You know it takes a long time to overcome something like this. Really it just touches my heart," Peebles said. "It's really a bunch of good people. And I just hate to see this kind of devastation."