One month anniversary of Americus tornadoes - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

One month anniversary of Americus tornadoes

April 1, 2007

Americus--On March first South Georgia was hit hard by a string of deadly tornados that left many with damaged homes and some with no homes at all.

Now exactly a month later, people in Americus are happy to see they are making some progress, but know they've still got a long way to go.

Mountains of debris line the streets of almost every neighborhood in Americus. It's a huge improvement from the ruins and rubble left from last months storm. And while the end is no where in sight, the community is just happy to finally be clearing their way towards recovery.

Barbee Cowen is happy to walk around her yard.

A month ago today, it was a completely different story.

"It was just devastating. Trees down everywhere, you couldn't get out of the driveway," she says.

Hers was one of many Americus properties severely damaged by a string of deadly tornados that ravaged South Georgia.

Cleaning up has been a daily chore ever since.

"We are coming home everyday and working and of course Saturday and Sunday we've been busy trying to clear the yard," she says.

But many, like Sam Parker, have come to lend a helping hand and help clear the way.

"What we are working on right now is getting the vegetation because that's the bulk. Then starting tomorrow we're going to start taking what we call CND, the household debris," he says.

It's been a tedious job for both victims and volunteers, but they're finally seeing some results. However, their labors are still far from over.

"We are about 75 percent through with the structural work that has to be done on the house but the yard work and the clearing of the house, that will take some time," she says.

"We are not anywhere near the point where we don't need those volunteers and those are the ones that have made this happen," he says.

They've seen the impact just one helping hand can have, but they still need a lot more before they're all cleaned up.

Those clean up crews hope to have all the debris cleared by the end of April.

A total of nine people were killed in Georgia from the tornadoes, two in Americus, six in Baker County, and one in Taylor County.

HOSPITAL UPDATE

Sumter Regional Hospital was also completely destroyed in that same storm.

That's also still a work in progress.

A month later they're still boarding up the blown out windows and cleaning up the debris.

The hospital has set up an urgency care unit right across the street in a series of tents and still see almost 100 patients a day.

Doctors are happy they can still provide health care for the community but are hoping to soon have a more stable facility.

"It's not the best situation but I think we've all made the most of it. We are not able to do everything in the ER but I think we are serving a purpose," says Brian Jordan, ER physician.

The walls of the new facility are expected to arrive Monday and be set up in the next two weeks.

They will continue to expand it until the hospital has been rebuilt.

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