'It was destroyed': Forestry teams recount January 22 tornado re - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

'It was destroyed': Forestry teams recount January 22 tornado response

Forestry teams cleared roads in January 2017 (Source: WALB) Forestry teams cleared roads in January 2017 (Source: WALB)
Tom Lambert, a senior investigator with the Georgia Forestry Commission (Source: WALB) Tom Lambert, a senior investigator with the Georgia Forestry Commission (Source: WALB)
Camp Osborn (Source: WALB) Camp Osborn (Source: WALB)
Lester Green, Georgia Forestry Commission Chief Ranger (Source: WALB) Lester Green, Georgia Forestry Commission Chief Ranger (Source: WALB)
DOUGHERTY CO., GA (WALB) -

Though they aren't technically first responders, forestry chainsaw strike teams hit the streets right after the January 2017 storms to clear roads for power crews.

"It was destroyed," said Tom Lambert, a senior investigator with the Georgia Forestry Commission, described of a home on Hardup Road. "I mean it was scattered across the yard and everything."

Lambert said that area in Dougherty County looks much different today than it did one year ago.

“Immediately, you could see that the storm had really taken its toll," said Lambert.

He and others who were out in the thick of the destruction have heartbreaking stories to tell.

One of those stories: the search for Detrez Green, 2.

"It's always tough when you're looking as far as anyone, and it's frustrating because you want to be able to find that individual,” explained Lambert. "It's a time in which basically you go ahead and push through, and do what you need to do."

One strike team helped clear paths for the search and rescue crews tasked with finding Green, who was reported missing just after the storm.

Detrez has not been found to this day, but there were other cases that stick with members of these strike teams -- happier, more successful cases.

“There were some boys trapped in one of the buildings out there,” said Lester Green, Georgia Forestry Commission Chief Ranger, who headed out to Camp Osborn in Worth County after the EF-3 tornado on January 22.

Green said he and his crew helped clear a path to rescue a group stuck in one of the only buildings that weren't destroyed in Camp Osborn.

"We kind of listened to some of the stories that they had,” Green said after the group got out safely. “You know, what they heard, what they saw, how they felt."

He said the reality of what happened set in shortly after.

"Naturally, they felt blessed and really thankful that they were passed over,” Green explained.

However, the compassion shown in the days following that tornado gives these men hope.

“The love and the kindness that was shown during this time, I think that helps as far as the impact,” Lambert said.

"People have really tender hearts, especially when you know, other people are hurting,” Green said.

Georgia Forestry Commission strike teams from all over the state worked closely with Georgia Power and Georgia Department of Transportation following the storms.

Copyright 2018 WALB. All rights reserved.

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