Looking back at the 1994 ice storm that paralyzed the Shoals

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FLORENCE, Ala. (WHNT) - The greatest ice impact for Thursday morning is expected around the Shoals, an area familiar with ice storms.

An ice storm on February 10, 1994, paralyzed the community.

Under the weight of the ice, tree branches and power lines littered roadways and cut off electricity for much of the area.

The most chilling image from that day, though, was the mangled car of Jacque Rainwater. An ice-coated oak tree limb fell and crushed her car as she drove a friend down Walnut Street.

"I had a broken neck and broken ribs, broken jaw and two cardiac arrests, two punctured lungs, separated shoulder, fractured skull," said Rainwater in a 1994 interview with WHNT News 19.

Emergency personnel worked to rescue her from the car, all with the threat of more falling limbs looming above.

Florence police officer Lance Smith was one of the first responders to the accident and 21 years later he says he still remembers the details of that day. While working to save Rainwater, he says another frozen branch fell on him. Now with the department 26 years, he tells WHNT News 19 that he has never seen another ice storm like that day.

The damage was so bad in some places, then-Governor Jim Folsom paid a visit to the area.

Flash forward to 2015, Governor Robert Bentley has already declared a State of Emergency in anticipation of the winter weather event.

However, the impact of Thursday's ice is expected to be far less catastrophic than in 1994.

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