Ben Hill Co. gets a Holiday storm - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Ben Hill Co. gets a Holiday storm

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December 26, 2006

Ben Hill County -- What may have been a tornado ripped through Ben Hill County Christmas morning.   Strong winds toppled trees and ripped several buildings to pieces.  

A mobile home was picked up and blown about 150 yards. The man who lives in that home had just left minutes before. Richard Bishop looks over all that is left of his 60 foot mobile home.

About 6:45 Christmas morning, a sudden storm picked it up off it's foundation. "I had just left and gone uptown to the store, me and my brother, to have coffee.  I had been gone ten minutes."

The home was torn to pieces, landing in a swampy area about 150 yards away.  "It was tied down. See the holes where it was pulled up?  Pulled right out of the ground...  Pulled right out of the ground," Bishop said.

Bishop said he had almost decided not to go for his usual morning cup of coffee because of the rain, but he says it was Christmas miracle he is still alive. "It's wonderful. God helped me. It's God helped me," said Bishop.

Just across the yard, Terry and Pam Bishop looked over their wrecked home. Trees fell on the side, and the back porch, crushing it.  Several of their storage buildings were ripped to pieces by the sudden storm.  "It sound like a train with a 747 landing on it," Pam Bishop said. "Very devastating. It was very frightening."

In their pool, furniture is at the bottom.  Trees are uprooted all around the home.  Terry and Pam and their two daughters say they huddled in the middle of the house, until it quickly passed.  

"It lightened up in a just a few minutes and we looked out and saw all the devastation," Terry Bishop said. "I still can't believe all this happened in less than a minute. It's just unreal."  

Wednesday, about a dozen members of their family, church and friends came to help start the clean up process.  It will be a long one, with all the destruction.  "This is really bad," Bob Jones said. "There is a lot of work to do. But we'll get it done."

The Bishops and their daughters say it was not the Christmas they had expected. Amber Defore said, "We are blessed that everybody is OK. That's the most important part. We can replace all the material items."

With their friends and family helping them, the Bishops say this Christmas story will have a happy ending. The Bishops will stay with family because their home has no power, and structural problems.

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