Highway 49 takes a hard hit in Sumter Co.

March 5, 2007

Sumter County --  Dozens of homes north of Americus along Highway 49 were damaged by Thursday's tornado.  The highway was closed to traffic for days because of trees and power lines in the roads, but now they are open. 

We stopped on Wood Valley Road, the Hayes home, where trees crushed the roof.  Five people hid in the bathroom when the storm hit.  Will Hayes said "We all came in here once we heard the wind pickup, and trees start falling.  We all got down here on the floor, and just kind of huddled together."

Monday the Hayes finished moving out of their home.    "We've got the whole house moved, since we've got to evacuate.  Got that moved in one day.  The friends got on the roof, and got that covered. That took two days. Just the debris and all that," Nancy Hayes said.

A couple of blocks away on Lorraine Avenue, Firefighter Carl Verbeke wears his helmet while moving his things out of his home. A tree through the roof has forced him to move out, and he worries about it falling in. Verbeke spent most of the last four days helping others, even though he knew his house was badly damaged.  "You have to. That's my job. That's what we do," Verbeke said.

The tree on Verbeke's home fell across his shed, and his Harley Davidson is holding up the shed and the tree.  Just another of the strange sights this deadly tornado left in Americus, where the clean up off Highway 49 means cutting literally thousands of trees.

Highway 49 north of Americus is lined with tree debris, cut back to the edge of the road, so traffic can pass.