Tornadoes cause most insured damage in GA history -, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Tornadoes cause most insured damage in GA history

March 16, 2007

Americus-  Insured losses from the storms that ripped through south Georgia March first set a state record. Insured Damage estimates have topped $210 million, that's more than the $150 million in insured losses from the tornados in Dunwoody and Gwinnett County in 1998.

It's not the state's worst disaster in terms of property damage, that was the estimated $500 million damage caused by the flood of 1994 in Southwest Georgia, but that's because most flood damage is not covered by insurance.

Americus and surrounding Sumter County sustained the lion's share of insured losses, that number is well over $100 million. Friday the city gave us a better look at just how many homes and businesses have been destroyed and what it will take to rebuild.

Twisted trees, damaged homes, two weeks after the tornado Americus still looks like a war zone. It's not surprising the storm's damage is the state's worst insured loss.

"It doesn't surprise me, looking at the devastation we've had, that does not surprise me," said Americus City Manager Charlotte Cotton.

The city's evaluation is three quarters of the way complete, 798 homes and 152 businesses have been damaged, 49 of those are totally destroyed, 166 have major damage.

"Right now our total is 49 that have been destroyed, I'd say about half are homes, half are businesses," said Beverly Butcher, GIS Information Officer.

They've compiled a map that may give you a better idea.

"The orange is moderate, the major is red, the purple is destroyed, and the yellow is minor.

Door-to-door assessments reveal the damages.

"If the whole roof is gone we're considering that major, if it's got some roof damage with some tree and shingle damage that's moderate, we need to have a break in there," said Butcher.

In fact, those assessments have given the city a pretty good idea where the tornado touched down on the ground and stayed on the ground, through the Rees Park area, up over through the cemetery, to the hospital, and points beyond doing the heaviest damage.

"As it started to leave the city limits and head back out into the county, it hit a subdivision out there," said Butcher.

With the emergency response behind them, city and county officials have turned their attention to the long-term recovery. Already several city and county groups have come together to form a disaster recovery foundation to raise funds to make up for what insurance may not cover.

"We're working as a cohesive team and that makes all the difference," said Cotton.

Clean up efforts are expected to be scaled back this weekend to give employees some time to rest, but come Monday the effort will resume.



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