Couple rescued after trapped in Athens storm shelter

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ATHENS, Ala. -- Damage reports across Limestone County were widespread. One couple spent time stuck in their storm shelter before being rescued.

Ronnie Cottles says he and his wife decided to take cover when the storm approached their Athens home. "Got into the storm shelter and about 10, 15 minutes we heard a loud POP!"

Cottles said they both waited for a bit before coming out of the shelter, but when they tried leaving, they couldn't. They say the walkway was blocked by trees.

This isn't the first time they were trapped in the shelter.

"The last time, a couple years ago. It came through, got the shingles off our house on the back porch," said Cottles. "My brother-in-law lives in this house above us. He had to crawl out, get a chainsaw and cut us out."

Now, the Cottles family isn't taking any more chances. They said they plan on cleaning up the trees around the shelter as soon as possible.

"There will not be anything that can fall and block us in anymore," said Cottles.

The couple was rescued when the Clements Volunteer Fire Department came and cut out some of the branches that were blocking the pathway. The Cottles said it took almost half of an hour to cut the trees.

The Cottles said they didn't call for help and aren't sure how the fire department knew they were in trouble. WHNT News 19 has reached out to the department but have yet to hear back.

The Clements Volunteer Fire Department is based in Athens and has about 30 volunteer firefighters.