March 2, 2007
Americus -- We are told that the tornado was on the ground for about three miles, and was about a mile wide. It was an F3 tornado with winds of 136-165 MPH that caused an estimated $35milion worth of damage in Americus.
James Miles showed us the spot where his neighbor was killed. Carrie Willis lived on one side of the duplex on Oglethorpe Avenue, and was home alone when the tornado hit the cinder block home. Willis ran out of her side, over to her neighbor Travis Griffins' side of the duplex. Griffin and Jerry Dukes were in the kitchen. About that time, the structure was hit by the twister. Willis and Dukes were killed.
Her landlord of five years was shocked. "I just can't believe it. The concrete block was shattered, and the roof blew away. It just caved in and I just never saw anything like it."
Friends and neighbors came by to see the damage. Travis Griffin amazingly survived. He crouched near a closet when the storm hit. "He hid by the closet. It's the first time I ever saw anything like this, and I'm 74 years old. I hope I never see it again," said a man who showed us the spot.
We saw a tree that looked like its bark had just been shaved off. The tree is bent like a coat hanger.
We saw people on Mayo street who are stunned by the damage. The people who own a collapsed furniture store lost that business, but their home is also damaged.
Another survivor told us they got down in a hallway, and noise was tremendous. "It was just awful. The house began to shake and we heard stuff hitting around it. Trees came up, and there was brick everywhere."
The lady who lived at 918 Oglethorpe Avenue told us she was home when it happened. "It was a lot wind. I didn't hear no train or nothing. There was stuff hitting the house."
Including a big magnolia tree that rests on the house now.
It's really hard to believe that more people weren't killed with all the damage we see.
A curfew is in effect, but rescue and emergency workers are still out in the town.
The hospital is being boarded up. We are told that it may be three months before the hospital can be used again.
About 70 vehicles in the hospital parking lot were destroyed Thursday night, from being tossed around, and from rocks that were propelled into them.