Tornado victims reconstruct their lives -, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Tornado victims reconstruct their lives

May 17, 2005

Donalsonville- Two tornadoes earlier this year are leading to a storm warning system in Seminole County. They displaced dozens of people and caused millions of dollars worth of damage.

     Drilling and hammering are the sounds of lives like Billy Reynolds' being reconstructed after tornadoes tore them apart just two months ago. "It has been rough. But we're making it, we're making it," he says.

     One other person didn't make it in Seminole, and eight others were hurt. But Reynolds' is still a life turned upside down, and a home turned inside out. "My house was totally damaged. They totaled the whole house out," he says.

     The end figure is $60,000 in damage to a home that no amount can replace. But the story is similar for 24 other homeowners in Seminole, homeowners EMA officials say are on their own now. "The Red Cross has left the area, GEMA, of course, has left the area. So now, people are on their own working with insurance companies to get everything back in order," says Lt.... Jeffery Grice.

     The damage is so severe, the EMA is still waiting for a final figure. Officials can only say it's definitely in the millions. "GEMA hasn't gotten back with us yet, or the insurance companies," says Grice.

     One totaled home is right on the edge of the Seminole County / Miller County line, simple proof that tornadoes don't respect boundaries. Along with Seminole, Miller County took a large hit from the tornadoes as well.

     "We had close to 140 homes that received damage, anywhere from minor up to completely destroyed," says Miller EMA director, Billy Rathel. Minor or leveled, one thing is certain, the destruction all equals expensive. "We have an approximate cost of 10 to 12 million dollars worth of damage," says Rathel.

     Ten people were hurt in Miller, something that hits close to home for Reynolds, one county over. "I made it out. That's the only thing that's important. You know, we can put the house back," he says. His is a house that, like many others in Seminole, is still about 3 months from completion.

     The one person killed in the tornadoes was Reynolds neighbor, Mary Burrington.


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