GEMA to help storm victims - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

GEMA to help storm victims

 

 

December 26, 2002

Blakely-- The Georgia Emergency Management Agency will send people to some of the hardest hit areas by the storms Friday, to coordinate state assistance. Governor Roy Barnes declared a state of emergency in Early and Lee counties, two of the hardest hit areas by the storms.

In Early County, just north of Blakely, one home was destroyed, while 11 other houses suffered major damage. The sound of chainsaws at Kevin Pitts' home off First Kolomoki Road.

Family members from Valdosta and Conyers have come to help clean up after the Christmas Eve morning tornado. Kevin's brother Allen came from Valdosta to help. "It's kind of amazing, everybody comes in and helps when you have something like this. We're really blessed," Allen said.

The roof was sucked off by the tornado, and several trees in the yard snapped in half. But 11-year-old Bryce Pitts said the family still had a Merry Christmas. "Yeah, we thankfully saved the Christmas presents from the tornado, or whatever it was," he said.

At the Davis home, just down the road, James Davis cuts up Magnolia limbs. "Everybody's blessed, because we did not have any fatalities. Other than the house down the road I think most people have mostly tree damage, yard damage," Davis says.

His wife Barbara sweeps up, but is still smiling. "And so I began to praise God, and thank him that he is a refuge and a fortress." Did you have a Merry Christmas? "Absolutely, absolutely," she said.

Several trees fell on their home, but it sustained only minor damage to the roof. This section in north Early County suffered some of the strongest wind damage. Pine trees on Schoolhouse Road were snapped in two, showing the power of the storm.

Georgia Power crews were replacing half a dozen poles that were broken or damaged, but all electricity in the county has been restored. No one was injured, and that made it a Christmas to remember.

James Davis said "We had a good Christmas as far as I'm concerned. Everything was what Christmas was truly about. Helping each other."

The cleanup will continue for several days, but these families consider it an act of love. GEMA personnel will be in Blakely Friday, setting up a Disaster Recovery Center.

Four homes in Calhoun County were damaged by a tornado Tuesday. James and Darla Dunn's home on James McMurria Road just north of Arlington was hardest hit. Part of their roof was blown off.

The remains of a storage building lie in their backyard. A one-hundred year old oak and several pine trees were flattened. Their pool house floats in the pool.

The Dunns say about 50 people from the community came out Christmas Eve to help them pick up the pieces. "It was amazing,” James said. “We looked up one time and nobody could get here. The next minute there was more people here helping out from all over. The different churches and law enforcement agencies."

"When you asked my husband was it a Merry Christmas, it was a very Merry Christmas,” said Darla. “Because we had the most important thing of all, and that's life."

The Dunns’ son Chad's house, across the road, also sustained roof damage, and trees fell on his car. But no one was injured, and the Dunn's say that is the most important thing. Now they wait on their insurance adjuster, and say thank you to their neighbor's for their help.

posted at 5:05PM by dave.miller@walb.com