- Cullman, Alabama

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April 28, 2014

Finding Shelter: Residents happy to find safe haven as storm approaches

VINEMONT — As the roll of thunder and the first peel of lightning illuminated the sky over Cullman County, Robby Stewart turned an eye toward the inviting doorway of a South Vinemont storm shelter.

“Yeah, I’m glad these are here,” Stewart said. “We lived in Hanceville three years ago when the tornadoes came and Kelly and I saw the wall cloud coming in. It was like it was turning backwards or something. We knew it was headed this way again so we were ready.”

Standing outside one of the three shelters clustered near the Providence/South Vinemont Volunteer Fire Department, Stewart said the path of the impending storm front appeared similar to what he remembered three years ago.

“I know if it’s anything like what came before you can’t take a chance. That was terrible,” Stewart said. “I remember volunteering to help clean up trees and it was just a lot of destruction. You could see how dangerous it was from the damage.”

Seated inside the shelter, Melanie Stanulevich and her husband Edward, of the Vinemont area, were reading and making the best of the situation. Her son, Travis Terry and 3-year-old daughter Maleigha were doing the same.

“We could be here for quite a while,” Melanie said. “The firemen come in and give us updates from time to time. But it’s comfortable. We’ve been here before. We try to keep up with the weather online, but my mother-in-law called and said it was time to go.”

An hour or so after their arrival at the shelter, tornado warnings were being issued in neighboring counties and thunder and lightning was becoming more frequent as the storm moved closer to Cullman County.

Ruth Thompson, of the Vinemont area and formerly of Cold Springs, paused outside the shelter entrance to look at the darkening sky.

“I stayed in one of the hotels in Cullman three years ago and saw the tornado that came down in town. It was the most awful thing I’ve ever seen,” she said. “I’ve moved up here since then and I’m glad these shelters are so close by. I know I will stay here as long as it takes.”

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