Been there, done that - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Been there, done that

^Essie Whitus ^Essie Whitus
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March 21, 2003

Camilla-- It's a sound that sticks in you forever. Three years later Mitchell county residents hear it again. The powerful winds of a tornado coming through.

Essie Whitus and her kids are cleaning up a major mess. "I'm just trying to straighten up the yard a little while I wait on the insurance adjuster," she says.

Whitus says the 2000 tornado cost her $10,000, and this year, it's worse. "I don't think I'm jinxed, it just happened. I heard some people say when they make a pass, they always follow the path."

The tornado passed through the same path as in 2000. It's hard to get the full effect of the damage until you drive by the destruction. "My baby's shaken up a little bit. She doesn't want to be out of my sight," said Essie.

Like three years ago, Whitus was at work, and her children were at home alone when the tornado hit. "When I was on my way home, they stopped me and said I couldn't drive through. I'm like 'unbelievable. I can't go check on my children?' Because I know the effect it had on them the last time. It took six months for them to get over."

Other neighborhood kids are dealing with other kinds of trauma. Seventeen-year-old Travis White is limping, but alive. He was inside his trailer when it was picked up and slammed down.

"It's a total loss," said independent insurance adjuster Alan Taylor. Taylor is back in Camilla. "The damage is severe, just like it was three years ago, but three years ago, people didn't come back in and populate the area," he said.

It takes less than a minute for a tornado to destroy everything you have, but it takes a lifetime to get over the fright. "I'm going to rebuild, but maybe in the next three years, I'll move out, because My children will have graduated from school," said Whitus.

After the last tornado, one of Whitus' children had to get sleeping pills from her doctor. Parents already know what to expect from some of their children this time around.

After the last tornado, one of Whitus' children had to get sleeping pills from her doctor. Parents already know what to expect from some of their children this time around.

More than 150 homes were damaged or destroyed in Mitchell and in Worth County.

posted at 6:30PM by dave.miller@walb.com