Camilla man recalls 2000 tornado - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Camilla man recalls 2000 tornado

CAMILLA, GA (WALB) -

Some folks in South Georgia know all too well the destruction a powerful tornado can cause.

Back in 2000, a tornado killed 11 people in Camilla.

That prompted Mitchell County to become the state's first storm Ready County.

"It happened just like that, like a boom," said Camilla resident Preston Gaines.

Gaines recalls the moment a twister destroyed his mobile home back in 2000.

"I had just got in the house and I was sitting up looking at TV and all of a sudden the trailer went to shaking and the next thing I know I was up under my next door neighbor's trailer," said Gaines.

11 lives were lost as a result of the tornado, but as with any storm there's a silver lining.

In 2002, Mitchell County was named the first Storm Ready County by the National Weather Service in the Tallahassee region.

The county gave away 500 weather radios and EMA officials can now inform residents when to take shelter as a storm approaches through a phone service called Code Red.

"People can sign up for it. It's free. It's something that the county commissioners pay for every year. When you sign up you can choose to get a text message, a call to your landline phone or to your cell phone or to all of them," said Mitchell County EMA Director Ann Rice.

We took a look into the heart of the EMA operations today and Rice says when a warning goes out its best for residents to act quickly and not take anything for granted.

"I don't want people to get complacent and just think it's not going to happen because we haven't had anything this year. I'm just thankful every time we get by that we didn't have an injury, lose of property or life," said Rice.

As for Gaines, he says he'll be praying for the families in Oklahoma seeing at one time that was him.

"I feel what they're going through because it's like what I went through. When you've lost everything and you have to start back over from the ground up, it's a hurting feeling," said Gaines.

Another tornado struck Camilla in 2003, killing four people.

Rice says the number might have been higher if not for the county's code Red alert system.

Remember, you can download the WALB weather app onto your smart phone to keep you informed of severe weather in your area.

 

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