What started as a typical Friday afternoon when the annual Uncle Billy’s Day festival kicked off at English Park soon turned devastating. Attendees at the park kept an eye on some ferocious looking clouds heading in from the south as the Pete Turbin Band kicked things off on the entertainment stage. About 40 minutes into his performance, the storm came whooshing in with heavy rain and strong winds. 

As people were running across the park, Altavista Police Chief Tommy Merricks and his department were running across the parking lot yelling, “Get to the Booker Building!” The crowd took cover inside  or went to their vehicles. 

As the storm came in, it was tearing apart the southwestern part of the Town of Hurt where many of the residents live. 

On Tuesday, Altavista Chamber of Commerce President Heather Reynolds explained that the National Weather Service gave them a 20 minute window to get people to safety, but the storm actually hit in about seven minutes. 


For more on this story, see this week's Altavista Journal.