Camilla Valentine's Day Tornado -, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Camilla Valentine's Day Tornado

Robert Casterline, first responder Robert Casterline, first responder
Rashandra Hayward, survivor Rashandra Hayward, survivor

A deadly EF3 tornado roared through Mitchell County on February 14th, 2000, killing 11 people. WALB Meteorologist Chris Zelman believes there were two reasons why the tornado took so many lives.

"It's hard to believe that 14 years ago we were using dial up radar and not being as prepared, so that was one of the problems, but the other problem was that it hit an area that was mostly mobile homes and that's where all the deaths occurred," said WALB Meteorologist Chris Zelman.

Camilla Police Investigator Robert Casterline was on call that night.  He was already at the station when damage calls started coming in.

"We eventually made it out to the Goodson Road area and during the flashes of lightning you could see the devastation, flat land, everything that would have been there was gone," said first responder Robert Casterline.

Rashandra Hayward and her family survived by getting into their bathtub, but she said it was one of the most terrifying experiences of her life.

"We could see the wind picking up the door, all the doors were closed, but the wind was so strong that it picked up the door," said survivor Rashandra Hayward.

Once the storm passed, Casterline helped numerous families and made sure survivors were safe.

"After that it was pretty much walking through debris just trying to see if you could find anybody else that needed help with assistance or recovery of some type, just an unforgettable, unforgettable night," said Robert Casterline.

Mitchell County became Georgia's first storm ready county and is now better prepared to warn people when severe weather threatens.


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