Historic home recovery still underway in Americus - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Historic home recovery still underway in Americus

May 7, 2007

Americus--  March 1st--  It's a day that will go down in history in Americus. A history-making tornado ripped through the city and destroyed or damaged hundreds of homes and businesses. Many historic buildings were in the path of the storm.

FEMA says they'll now step in to make sure history is preserved in areas hit by severe tornadoes. That's welcome news for people in Americus. They're still working to erase and replace what was done two months ago.

You can still hear the sounds of recovery in Americus. Beneath now clear skies and sunshine, contractors work to rehabilitate historic homes in the heart of the Americus historic district. They took a severe hit March 1st.

"It was just total amazement," said Kent Sole.

Homes weren't the only things damaged. Buildings like the old Rees Park School took a heavy blow as well. Windows are now boarded up in the front. The back shows even more devastation.

"It is really a shambles," said Sole. Americus Historic Preservation Commission Chairman Kent Sole knows a little about history. He spends his time making sure that history is upheld in the appearance of those homes in the city.

"It'll be years before we have everything back in order," said Sole. In Rees Park, trees are gone and a gazebo sits in the middle of the damage. It used to stand about 20 feet. It was ripped away but there's a hope that not all was lost in the storm.

"We would like to get the historic district back to the way it was," said Sole. One piece to recovery would be making the Old Rees Park school look brand new. "It just depends on how much money is available as to what you can do," said Sole.

That help may soon be on the way. FEMA announced that the school is one of about ten historic buildings they will help preserve. That's good news as progress continues.

"With what I see right now, things certainly look a lot better," said Sole. Homes in the historic district are slowly coming along and soon the recovery sounds will be replaced with the sounds of people returning home.

Kent Sole says they haven't heard anything definite from FEMA about how they'll help preserve the school. There are still talks about what will be done with the school.  That includes just preserving the facade or restoring the entire school. Before the tornado hit, repairs were already being made to the school using local sales tax money.

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