MOBILE, Ala. (WALA) – As a Mobile native, this was not Rosetta Kimbrough’s first hurricane. And when she followed the track pushing it toward Gulf Shores, she figured she would be OK on the “mild” side.

But Hurricane Sally was a stark reminder that there is no “safe” side of a hurricane.

Kimbrough said she promised her husband she would join him shortly when he went downstairs to the first level of their home on West Creek Circle Drive. But she drifted off to sleep at about 4 a.m.

“And maybe I was asleep about 20 minutes, and I woke up to a crashing noise,” she told FOX10 News. “I open my eyes, and to the right of me was a tree branch in the room – in the bed. And to the left, I had a board going across my chest and one going across my legs. So, I wasn’t able to get out to the side. I was able to hear. But I wasn’t able to see because the ceiling come crashing down on around me, also.”

Then, like something out of the “Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse,” came the bees. The tree that had crashed into Kimbrough’s roof was full of them.

“I was stung at least 15 to 20 times by bees,” she said. “Also, there were bugs in the tree, and they were getting in my ears, and I was trying to swat ’em and kill them with my hands.”

Kimbrough’s husband was helpless to pull her out, so he called 911. That’s when Rescue 25 of the Mobile Fire-Rescue Department raced through high winds and streets blocked by downed trees and power lines. Kimbrough said rescue workers were there within minutes.

The crew quickly assessed the situation and managed to lift the debris off Kimbrough, while battling bee stings of their own. Other than those bee stings and a concussion, Kimbrough escaped serious injury. She said she realizes how close she came to a different outcome, describing how a roof joist sailed right past her.

“It was between my chest and my abdomen. And embedded into the mattress,” she said.  

Fire-Rescue Capt. Dana Tanz said the roof joist could have killed her.

“One or two inches one way or the other,” he said. “Could have been impaled. You know, could have been crushed.”

A rescue like this is relatively unusual in Mobile – perhaps one a month. During Hurricane Sally, however, rescue workers responded to four separate emergencies between 4:30 and 7:30 on Wednesday. Three of them were eerily similar, according to department spokesman Steven Millhouse.

“The wild part about it was there were three instances, within three hours, much like Miss Kimbrough,” he said. “Three women, in their beds, just trying to ride out the storm. Trees come down on their homes. Roof, joists, ceiling – all of it collapses on top of these women in their beds, and they’re all trapped.”

Added Tanz: “That was a very unusual night. Now, we train. We’ve trained for years for situations like that, but to have four in one night, it was very unusual. But all outcomes were great.”

Remarkably, none of the storm victims was seriously hurt. Tanz said it was miraculous Kimbrough avoided serious injury.

“One or two inches one way or the other,” he said. “Could have been impaled. You know, could have been crushed.”

Rescue worker Josh Hults said the bees presented a unique challenge.

“We’ve got a couple guys who are allergic, so of course, we kept them out,” he said.

Despite the adrenaline, Kimbrough said she felt every sting. But she added that it kept her mind off of the danger she faced.

“I really wasn’t that frightened while it was going on because, like I said, most of my time was spent occupied keeping the bees off of me,” she said. “But once I got back home from the hospital and looked in the room and saw the damage, I was horrified.”

Kimbrough said she believes she benefited from providence – and dedicated professionals.

“Well, I do want to thank God for sparing my life,” she said. “I also want to thank all the rescue workers. That was awesome. And I wouldn’t have survived without them.”


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