Americus residents blown away by historic damage -, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Americus residents blown away by historic damage

March 9, 2007

Americus-  Americus' oldest homes were devastated in last Thursday's tornado. Hundred year old homes had their porches torn away. Many roofs are now draped in tarps. Rees Park was nearly destroyed and the old Americus High School built in 1910 may no longer be structurally sound.

Nail guns were pressed into service in Americus' historic district. The oldest home on the block is in need of a new roof. Lucile Smith's lived here 65 years and huddled in the closet as her hundred year old home took a beating.

"It sounded like hail hitting everything, but you see it was bricks. All my pretty chimney's fell, five," said Lucile Smith, a homeowner.

The top of her turret now sits on the back porch.

"Most of it is saved, and it's really a strong house because it sure did shake. I though it was coming down around our ears for awhile," said Smith.

The old Americus, Rees High School built in 1910 didn't fair as well. Two walls near the auditorium collapsed along with two-thirds of the roof and it needs to be checked by structural engineers.

"The roof is only several years old and they were using SPLOST money to re-furbish the outside," said Kent Sole, Americus Historic Preservation Commission Chairman.

Rees Park which was once full of trees, is now empty, the gazebo destroyed. Today as many were picking up the pieces barriers that may have prevented the work have been blown away with the storm.

"We don't want to have any unnecessary burdens placed on the inhabitants of the historic district in redoing their homes as long as they're done in kind," said Sole.

Meaning restoring the homes like they were before the storm is fine, but alterations will require a certificate of appropriateness.

"It's a blow but we'll recover trees will grow back, people will restore their homes," said Sole.

Soon the damage from the March first storm will also be history.

The Americus Historic Preservation Commission met again with homeowners Friday night to talk about modifications they can make to their homes without a Certificate of Appropriateness.