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Homeless man rides out Tropical Storm Claudette near fishing pier, loses everything he owns

By Brendan Kirby

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    DAUPHIN ISLAND, Alabama (WALA) — Tropical Storm Claudette on Saturday damaged the Cedar Point Fishing Pier and injured a homeless man who was riding out the storm in his van in the parking lot.

The injuries were minor, but David Harris said his Ford Aerostar is badly damaged and all of his possessions ruined.

“Everything that I own is in there,” he told FOX10 News. “It’s straight-line winds, I think, along with a tornado. And this ain’t no place to play. … My clothes, my bedding, certain things that just can’t be replaced.”

The National Weather Service issued a tornado warning for the area at about 3:15 a.m. Harris said a 2-by-4 from the pier came crashing through the window toward the back of the van where he was sleeping.

“I was asleep when it felt like something grabbed the font of my vehicle and pushed it,” he said. “And the next thing I know, I’m hearing glass shatter all over the place.”

Harris said the shatter glass cut him but that he, otherwise, was OK. He said an ambulance crew came and checked him out.

The pier, which sits on Alabama 193 on the other side of Dauphin Island, is a popular spot. Steve McRae, who has owned it since 1988, said the pier remains structurally sound.

“The decking, the pilings, all are in good shape. … All in all, the pier, itself, is in decent shape,” he said.

Added co-owner Gail McRae: “We lost some railings. “We lost some railings. Bathroom trailer’s been moved. The office is demolished.”

Steve McRae said the pier will be closed for safety reasons until a more thorough assessment.

“The bathroom trailer was pushed 9 feet sideways,” he said. “So there will be some damage there that we’ll have to take are of.”

Harris said he has been living out of his van since Dec. 22.

“I don’t know who I’m gonna get to get rid of them dents,” he said. “That was my inheritance. And it’s now – it’s in bad shape.”

Harris said tornado was over before he realized it.

“It was sudden,” he said. “It didn’t have a chance to be scary.”

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