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Saks resident escapes flooded home with firefighters’ help

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The home of Shirley Morris sits amid flood waters on Wildoak Drive. Heavy rains caused major problems around Calhoun County Friday. The rains flooded roads, caused wrecks and submerged cars. (Photo by Trent Penny/The Anniston Star)

It was the feeling of water on her feet that woke Shirley Morris from her bed Friday. 

It had poured in from outside her home on Wildoak Drive, just off Lenlock Lane in Saks, during a widespread spate of flash floods throughout Calhoun County that morning. The water stood about 4 feet high outside, high enough to almost reach the windows, to cover the front porch and hide a bank of bushes alongside the house.

Inside, water had flipped over furniture as it rose. The flood was cold and brown, filled both with insects and prized possessions that Morris, 83, had accumulated over the 38 years she’d lived there. She said she smelled the water before she saw it.

“I can’t really describe it,” Morris said, seated at a table in a covered patio at a neighbor’s house late Friday morning. “It was just so stale.” 

Morris was just one county resident caught up in flooding Friday. Calhoun County Emergency Management Agency representatives said heavy rains had flooded roads in Anniston, Alexandria and Oxford, and that vehicles had wrecked on U.S. 78 and Interstate 20. Only a few miles from Morris’s house, a car was stuck in a flooded ditch on Post Oak Road in Alexandria. Just across the street from Morris, a car on Cherokee Trail was submerged up to its hood.

Morris, a teacher in Alexandria for 18 years, said that an alarm service she used failed to contact emergency services. She tried calling 911 from her cell phone and landline, but calls couldn’t get through. She fell while she was walking, she said, but was able to get up, thanks to knee replacement surgery some time ago. When she tried the side and front doors, the water outside held them shut. She said she pounded on her glass front door for a few minutes trying to attract attention, but it didn’t work. 

“I couldn’t get anybody to hear me,” she said. “People were passing and I was banging on the glass, but they were looking at the water and not the door.” 

She got the attention of neighbors down the street, she said, but only after she pried the pane of glass in her door loose and stuck her head through. Firefighters arrived soon after and freed Morris from her home. Her neighbors brought her to their house to wait for her son, who lives near Atlanta, to arrive. 

Terry Bobo, Morris’ next-door neighbor, said he was at work that morning and got a call to come home. His yard was flooded, too, though it didn’t reach into his house.

“Our in-ground pool, the liner floated out. It’s all torn up. It destroyed everything in my yard,” Bobo said. “It’s flooded out bad.” 

Cpt. Dale Findley of the Anniston Fire Department said his team had pulled Morris out earlier, and helped the woman who drove the car on Cherokee Trail get out of the deep water where she was stuck. Her daughter had picked her up, he said. 

Within an hour, the road was blocked and utility company trucks had arrived to shut off services. Morris said she heard clicking as she left her house that had her worried her gas fireplace had become a hazard. 

She said she wasn’t sure how she was going to clean the house up. She was told her home wasn’t in a flood plain when she was buying homeowner’s insurance, she said, so she didn’t have coverage for that. 

Her property had flooded once before but water had never reached her house. The last time it happened, her air conditioner was damaged. She said a drain further up the road, which is privately owned, could have been opened to stop the flooding. She declined to say who owns the drain. 

Morris didn’t seem bitter or upset Friday, in spite of the damage to her home and her possessions. 

“Those are material things, but physically, I’m OK. Mentally? We’ll know later on,” she said, laughing. 

Assistant Metro Editor Ben Nunnally: 256-235-3560. 

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