MCLB leaders reflect on year of rebuilding after tornado

MCLB leaders reflect on year of rebuilding after tornado
Those on base and nearby are still rebuilding (Source: WALB)
Base leaders said a lot of progress has been made (Source: WALB)
Base leaders said a lot of progress has been made (Source: WALB)

ALBANY, GA (WALB) - Dramatic surveillance footage shows the moment a powerful tornado tore through the Marine Corps Logistics Base in Albany.

The storm left a path of destruction at a place key to supplying Marines around the world.

"We knew initially, because this is a department of defense installation, that the mission was the most important thing we had to do to get prepared to get back to doing," Frederick Broome, MCLB Director of the Installation & Environment Division, said.

They did just that. Base officials said 64 facilities were damaged and three were a total loss, adding up to costs of well over $100 million. That's when Marines got to work.

"It was an absolute pleasure to work with everyone on the base because everybody turned up very quickly," Broome said. 'People showed up on base almost immediately. Their first question was what do you need me to do."

The tasks, over the past year, have including replacing miles of electrical and fiber lines, repairing perimeter fences and clearing 700 acres of forests.

Just down the road from the base, civilians are rebuilding too.

"It's been a journey," Erica Dukes Johnson, who lives in a house on blank road, said. "From the starting process of rebuilding the house, the roof and everything that had to be done."

Johnson said she was pregnant, out of her home for nearly a month, but things got repaired relatively quickly.

"It has been great," Dukes Johnson said. "The babies were born March 7th. About a month and a week after the storms."

Not one, but two baby boys helped grow her family just days after she thought she could've lost everything.

"Always check on your family no matter where they are because storms are arising from all over the place," Dukes Johnson said. "People are getting trapped, people are dying. That would be my advice is to keep family first."

Whether you're on base or just next door to it, January 22 will be a day that many won't forget.

"It was a historic event for all of us," Broome said. "Most of us had never gone through something like, especially on a Sunday afternoon."

A Sunday many wish hadn't happened, but many said has made them much stronger.

Copyright 2018 WALB. All rights reserved.