Day 5: Recovery efforts continue in Cairo

Cairo Home Destroyed/Cairo GDOT Debris Pickup Ends

CAIRO, GA (WALB) - Five days after the storm, many families in Cairo are trying to pick up the pieces.

After Kathroyn Corker’s roof and walls were ripped off, she said she’s just happy to be alive.

Kathroyn Corker (Source: WALB)
Kathroyn Corker (Source: WALB)

Corker lived happily in a single bedroom home for decades before an EF-2 tornado destroyed nearly everything. She said just as the tornado was coming through, everything went dark.

“I was trying to feel my way to the bathroom to get to the bathtub, but I couldn’t make it," said Corker.

She couldn’t make it because a tree limb left a gash in her leg.

Many families, like Corker, were trapped after the storm.

And for many, it was first responders like AJ Childs, with the Cairo Police Department, who saved them.

AJ Childs, patrol officer for Cairo Police Department (Source: WALB)
AJ Childs, patrol officer for Cairo Police Department (Source: WALB)

“I don’t know if she would’ve been able to get herself out of the house in the state that she was in,” said Childs.

Childs said he was in her neighborhood responding to another call, but when he heard her for cry for help, he had to make appropriate changes.

“As I’m trying to walk the rest of the way there, I began hearing a lady calling for help,” said Childs.

“Help! Help! Help!” exclaimed Corker.

In her home, all alone, she was stuck with no sign of help.

But when Childs emerged from the darkness of the night, Corker said she felt a sense of relief.

“I didn’t want her to get cut, so then I went to look for another way for her to get out of the house," said Childs.

Childs said a few minutes later, he was able to rescue her through a window.

“He said, ‘Come on baby, let’s try to get you out of here,’” explained Corker.

From there, they walked back to his patrol car and he immediately drove her to a hospital.

Corker believes that without Childs, her family’s lives would be very different today.

“Other limbs would have fallen on me, other parts of the house would have fallen on me and I would’ve lost consciousness and I would’ve died," said Corker.

Corker said she’s reminded each day of how lucky she is.

“Thank God I’m still here,” said Corker.

And in her home, that same faith still stands.

Corker said she has about 100 stitches in her calf, which is pretty remarkable after looking at the state of her home.

From rescue to recovery

Grady County Emergency Management Director Richard Phillips said more than 800 tons of debris have been collected since Tuesday.

Richard Phillips, Grady County Emergency Management Agency director (Source: WALB)
Richard Phillips, Grady County Emergency Management Agency director (Source: WALB)

Phillips said the community made this progress possible.

“I was actually amazed how quick the yards and all got the debris to the edge of the road to where we could get it picked up," said Phillips.

However, some neighborhoods have yet to see this progress.

Between the Georgia Department of Transportation (G-DOT) and local agencies, more than 200 trips have been made to the Cairo landfill to dispose of storm debris.

County officials said the tornado was very sporadic, creating pockets of destruction.

Cairo storm Debris Resident React

Until they can reach all neighbors, residents are taking matters into their own hands.

Dozens of families have already hired private contractors to help saw trees off their cars and houses.

They said they’re working fast to get as much storm debris to their curbs.

They hope by doing so, crews can collect all their debris in one trip.

But, people like Christopher Adams are also helping out other families.

Christopher Adams (Source: WALB)
Christopher Adams (Source: WALB)

“It’s neighbors coming out to help neighbors. Helping the elderly pick things out of their yards if they can’t do it. Making sure people got food, supplies," said Adams.

Officials with the Emergency Management Agency said they believe they’ll be able to collect a good portion of the storm debris by Saturday.

However, they know there's still tons of debris left.

So, they’ve asked to have G-DOT stay through Saturday, but have yet to hear back.

While recovery efforts in Cairo are still underway, county leaders ask that you remain patient during this time.

And, if you are able to bring your debris to the curb, they said it’ll help speed the recovery process along.

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