LOWNDES CO., GA (WALB) - Monday marked the beginning of severe weather preparedness week in Georgia, and that included being prepared for tornadoes.
Surveillance video from Sunset Farms Produce on Madison Highway just outside of Valdosta captured an EF-2 tornado touching down without warning and tearing through Langdale Forest Products on December 29th, 2014.
Sunset Farms' plant manager, Ricky Lightsey, was sitting in the sales manager's office when he heard the tornado. "Looked out the window. Just leaned over, looked out the window and there it was. All the tin and debris flying up into the sky," Lightsey recalled.
But, Lightsey said the plant was prepared.
"It is somethin' we're prepared for. We have a shelter in place, a procedure here for our operations," Lightsey pointed out.
And, that's exactly how Lowndes County EMA Director Ashley Tye said everyone should be. "The number one part of being prepared is to have a plan," Tye emphasized. "Know what you're gonna do. It's a lot easier to sit down and come up with that plan ahead of time."
Knowing how to react is also an essential part of being prepared. If you're inside and you see a tornado, it's best to stay inside and take shelter.
Lightsey went outside to get a better look at the tornado. But once he got outside, he immediately began warning everyone to take shelter. "Take shelter, take shelter immediately. The safety of others that are within our plant," Lightsey responded, when asked what was going through his mind when he stepped outside to see the tornado.
The buildings damaged at Langdale Forest Products have since been repaired, but they now stand as a constant reminder that when a storm approaches, even if tornados aren't in the forecast, it's important to be prepared.
To sign up for Lowndes County's CodeRed emergency alert system, visit www.lowndescounty.com.
For more emergency preparedness tips, or for help making an emergency plan, visit, www.ready.ga.gov.