Tropical Storm Bill leaves a brutal calling card - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Tropical Storm Bill leaves a brutal calling card

Tornado forms in Early County Tornado forms in Early County
Deputy David Cheshire Deputy David Cheshire
The Warricks believe this oak tree held their mobile home in place. The Warricks believe this oak tree held their mobile home in place.
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July 1, 2003

Early County - Southwest Georgia residents are cleaning up tornado damage. Tornado survivor, Al Warrick, says, "We can fix all this back, but the main thing is we're alive." Monday's twister hit several homes in Early County.

It's a rare sight, but a southwest Georgia deputy caught the tornado on tape. Early County Deputy David Cheshire heard the tornado was on its way. He jumped in the patrol car and went door to door to save people who were in the twister's path. An old tree saved one couple and a deaf man didn't even know it was coming.

Deputy Cheshire was sitting in his patrol car only 100 yards away when the twister crossed his path. He says, "It was amazing, I've never seen anything like that."

At 6:25 Monday evening, black clouds with swirling winds caused a twister to take shape. Three minutes later, you can see it going over Highway 62, just west of Blakely. It eventually touched ground.

Deputy Cheshire risks his live to save lives. He tried to out run the tornado to warn residents. On the patrol car camera tape you can see him pulling in driveways and yelling to residents, "Get in the car, go into town, there's a tornado down yonder!" he yelled to citizens.

"When I got out on 62 about a mile out of Blakely, I noticed the cloud in the sky a swirling effect," said Cheshire. "Dark black cloud about a mile across. It had not reach the ground at that time. It started spitting out black clouds or black smoke."

"I wasn't scared myself I've never seen a tornado that close and the damage it was causing in front of me was just unreal, I couldn't imagine it."

Meanwhile, Al and Mary Jane Warrick were inside their mobile home under the black cloud on the deputies video. Mr. Warrick explains, "I always heard it sounded like a freight train, but it was like rushing air, quick and then it quieted off."

Before the twister left, it picked up their home, nature wrapped it's limbs around the home. He says, "That's what saved us the 300 to 400 year old Oak tree." Huge limbs anchored them down. Mr. Warrick sighs, "Fortunately we're okay, that's the main thing."

The twister whipped through the woods off Highway 62, knocking down hundreds of trees. It eventually ended up on Freeman Road where it damaged several homes.

Guy Jones didn't hear the tornado coming because he's deaf, but the house shaking was proof enough. A big tree came crashing down on his roof and he was temporarily trapped inside. Mr. Warrick says, "We've had all we can handle out here."

The Warricks have been without water all day Tuesday because strong winds busted their pump and also sucked up the roof to their cooking house. Seeing the deputies video, it's amazing that no one got hurt.

The National Weather Service issued four tornado warnings Monday in the Early County area. Even though only one tornado was caught on tape, we were told at one point Monday night that four different twisters touched down in Early County.

posted at 5:15PM by kathryn.simmons@walb.com