COLQUITT CO., GA (WALB) - The National Weather Service (NWS) in Tallahassee, Florida confirmed the strength of the tornado that ripped through Colquitt County Sunday afternoon.
On Monday, NWS officials said the tornado that hit Colquitt County has a preliminary rating of EF-1.
Due to the magnitude of the damage seen in certain parts of Colquitt County, the National Weather Service didn’t waste any time determining what type of tornado went through the area.
The NWS said a total of three homes saw severe damage during the tornado that had a maximum of 110 mile-per-hour winds.
Survey crews were able to determine the storm was five miles long and 180 yards wide.
An NWS meteorologist said the storm stayed on a pretty distinct path throughout Colquitt County.
Officials saw much of the damage at structural properties on Wilder, Tallokas and Gibbs roads. They said they looked at debris damage and home damage to determine the wind speed and confirm the size of the storm.
“When it comes to structural home damage, we have to look at how it was constructed. Was it good construction? And based on that, we estimate a wind speed. When it comes to trees, the damage of the trees, we can also estimate on that,” explained Lauren Nash, a meteorologists with the NWS.
Widespread tree damage was seen all over Southwest Georgia but the tornado hit Colquitt County, just south of Moultrie, the hardest.
Some people are still reliving what they said were minutes in a living nightmare.
From downed trees to many roofs torn apart, many residents are still trying to come to terms with the damage left behind after Sunday’s storm.
A maximum of 110 mile per hour winds ripped through a portion of Colquitt County, damaging three homes in the area and leaving some homeowners shaken after experiencing the whirlwind.
“I looked out the back window and I see all the trees touching the ground, branches flying like knives,” said resident Steven Reyes.
Reyes, his wife and two sons live off Wilder Road, one of the three roads in the distinct path of Sunday afternoon’s EF-1 tornado. His road, along with Tallokas and Gibbs roads, were heavily impacted.
“I ran to the bathroom, tried to cover them up as much as I could. And within five minutes, it was over with,” said Reyes.
National Weather Service survey crews were able to determine the storm was five miles long and 180 yards wide.
And with that magnitude, Reyes and his family had to leave their home Sunday night and stay in a hotel until their area was cleaned up.
“We’ve been here for seven years. I haven’t got it that bad. All the trees were surrounding us but they come through and cut all the lumber down, so it’s just opened space now,” explained Reyes.
With his shed damaged in his back yard, to busted windows, Reyes is just grateful the community already rallied around him and his family in their time of need.
“Volunteers, they were checking left and right and it was a really warm feeling,” said Reyes.
Unfortunately, one man had far more damage done to his home, forcing him to leave.
“I wasn’t expecting to see the roof peel off like that,” said Jerome McBride, who was sitting in the front room watching television around 2:30 p.m. when the storm hit.
“After a while I seen some insulation come through the house and when I looked up, I started seeing a piece here and a piece there,”said McBride.
His roof was gone, stripped off and left behind the back of the house and wrapped around a tree that too toppled over from the wind.
“Hard wind and rain and the wind went to blowing and before you know it, it popped off,” McBride explained.
Seaborn Folsom didn’t get hit by the storm but said he isn’t surprised about the damage.
“The past few years we’re getting more tornadoes and a lot more rain,” said Folsom.
McBride said he hopes to move back in his home soon, and is grateful he’s alive.
“Real lucky. Thank the lord that I’m lucky, because I couldn’t do nothing,” said McBride.
Not much can be done until we know what’s coming.
There is even a chance for more severe weather this week.
With the possibility of more severe weather heading towards Colquitt County this week, the Emergency Management Director Russell Moody said alerting the public of the possibility is a priority.
Moody said everyone in the county was very fortunate and blessed that there were no deaths from the tornado. He said they will be monitoring the potential threat of this week, but wants everyone to do their part as well.
“Hurricanes and things, you can prepare for out front a little bit, but when you have these systems that come through with these squall lines, you never know what you’re going to get, so you just have to be ready,” said Moody.
Moody said now is a good time to check the batteries in you weather radio’s and make sure you and your family have a plan in place.
He also asks that if there is severe weather this week that people stay off the roads for their safety and for emergency services to operate effectively.