CAIRO, GA (WALB) - The city of Cairo is still cleaning up Tuesday following an EF-2 tornado Sunday night.
The tornado hit the city causing damage to homes and businesses but fortunately no loss of life.
Grady County Schools were closed Monday and are closed again Tuesday.
Grady County school administrators say school will officially resume Wednesday morning at normal time.
They said students missed two days of school because of power outages, and internal damages to one of it’s elementary schools.
School administrators told us it is crucial they get students back in the classroom as soon as possible, because they’ve already missed so many days due to natural disasters.
They said students missed five days because of Hurricane Michael.
Emergency Management Agency officials said it’s the southeast and southwest areas of Cairo that were hit the hardest by the tornado.
Which is exactly where Southside Elementary School is located.
Grady County Superintendent, Dr. Kermit Gilliard said getting students back to a safe environment is their top priority.
“School’s very important from a learning standpoint. But, in our community it’s also important because for many of our children if they don’t come to school, they don’t have adequate nutrition," said Gilliard.
Gilliard said he knows some students have been displaced because of the storm.
So, he hopes having the students back in school will give them a sense of normalcy.
But with the rain overnight there could be more problems for the building.
Governor Brian Kemp declared a state of emergency for Grady, Harris and Talbot Counties.
People are still working hard to clear their yards and their neighbors' yards of debris.
Dozens of homes are now covered with tarps.
And some, already have local companies removing trees that smashed through their house.
"I spent all day yesterday putting tarps on my house. I helped put tarps on my neighbor’s house. Just trying to get back to some normality,” said Cairo resident Wilbert Young.
Young is one resident who was fortunate enough to not suffer any major damage to his house.
"I really feel blessed by God that my house was spared. It’s probably the only livable house on this block right now,” said Young.
The several other homes on this block weren't so lucky.
However, Young says none of his immediate neighbors were seriously injured — despite trees ripping through their homes.
"We just heard like chaos. The house started trembling, it felt like pressure coming. We heard glass breaking,” said Young.
Young told us when once the tornado passed he immediately checked on his neighbors.
He even ran inside with first responders to save his neighbors who were trapped in their home.
He said his years in the military gave him the confidence to do so.
“I’m kind of used to putting my life on the line. So, I didn’t really think about anything, I just jumped into that mode to where I help someone else out,” said Young.
He said he’s thankful for his neighbors, because he knows they’re going to help each other recover from this disaster. PAIGE:
They also told us after looking at all of the destruction, they know it’ll be a long road of recovery.
The American Red Cross has a warming shelter set up at 65 11th Ave northeast for anyone who needs it. They are expected to stay open until noon Tuesday if not longer to help keep people safe.
They also have two emergency response vehicles driving through severely damaged neighborhoods handing out warm meals and drinks.
Executive Director Andy Brubaker said they’re keeping the shelter open tonight and tomorrow.
“There’s still a lot of people without power and it’s not because their power hasn’t been restored in their neighborhoods, it’s maybe because their house has been damaged so much. So we want to be able to provide a safe place for them to go to get out of the cold,” said Brubaker.
Brubaker told us they’re also handing out tarps, while supplies last, to anyone who needs them.
He said they’ll make another decision Wednesday on whether to keep the shelter open.
Sunday marks five months since Hurricane Michael rolled through southwest Georgia. Cairo’s police chief, Keith Sandefur, said the tornado caused more damage to the city than the hurricane did.
The Grady County Health Department is encouraging tornado recovery workers to get tetanus shots if they haven’t had a recent booster shot, which is recommended every 10 years.
“The vaccine is available at our health department,” Peggy Connell, Grady County Health Department county nurse manager, said.
Tetanus shots given to recovery workers in the field are free, Connell said.
Vaccine given in the health department is billed to insurance; however, no- and low-cost tetanus vaccines are also available in the health department for eligible patients.
“Any wound that could be contaminated with tetanus bacteria should be tended to as soon as possible,” Connell said.
The American Red Cross and the Salvation Army released information on resources available to community members.
The American Red Cross is encouraging people without power to come seek refuge at the shelter, as the temperatures will drop drastically tonight.
Cots and hygiene will be made available.
Red Cross and the Salvation Army also had two teams out doing mobile feeding for folks who did not want to leave their home.
“We want to ensure that they have a safe, warm place to sleep and some food to eat,” stated Disaster Program Specialist Paul Brown.
The shelter is being housed at the Grady County Agriculture Center.
It will be running until there is no longer a need.
Wednesday, March 6, Red Cross officials will be doing disaster assessments to see just how many homes were affected.
For more information, contact the Grady County Health Department at (229) 377-2992.