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Miller Co. begins recovery efforts after EF-1 tornado

Published: Dec. 19, 2019 at 12:58 AM EST
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MILLER CO., Ga. (WALB) - Devastation from an EF-1 tornado Tuesday spread for miles in Miller County.

The National Weather Service reported wind speeds around 110 miles per hour.

This was a storm Miller County residents said took them by surprise.

For some, it’ll take weeks to clean up, but for others, it’ll be months before they can get back to normal.

“See this was the roof here,” said Jesse Mills, who is working to clean up what’s left of his family’s home. “It left two bedrooms on it, it was three and it split it 50/50. Also, inside the living room, it took the ceiling fan out and blew it all the way out here.”

Jesse Mills
Jesse Mills(WALB)

His recovery started Wednesday and he plans to be done by next week.

“This was a bad area here, how it separated this house here where I was surprised but you won’t know when I get through with it,” said Mills.

Miller County tornado damage
Miller County tornado damage(WALB)

But that's not the case for others in Miller County.

“You see tornadoes hitting other places but you never think about it hitting you,” said resident Rodney Bryan.

Just 5 miles away, Bryan said his clean up will take three to four months.

“I just broke down in tears because it’s just so much work to do and we weren’t even quite through and still had several things to finish up with Hurricane Michael,” Bryan said.

Metal from his barns was blown across his property.

Miller County tornado damage
Miller County tornado damage(WALB)

“This beam was sitting over yonder, but it picked that son of a gun up and flipped it over here,” Bryan explained. “These two barns was the kind of like corporate headquarters. Everything flowed out of these two barns.”

Bryan said it’s going to be a challenge.

“That was my shop, that’s where all my tools laying, my drill press, my welder is laying all under that,” Bryan pointed out.

Rodney Bryan
Rodney Bryan(WALB)

Though his insurance covers most of the damage, it was still unimaginable for the farmer.

“I never had nothing like this, this is devastation,” Bryan said.

Most of the damage occurred on private properties. Those residents said they are grateful for the help of volunteers and first responders.

For six miles, the tornado left a trail of damage in Miller County.

Deputy Emergency Management Agency Director Cory Thomas said that at one point, the tornado was 200 yards wide.

Miller County Deputy Emergency Management Agency Director Cory Thomas
Miller County Deputy Emergency Management Agency Director Cory Thomas(WALB)

Following Hurricane Michael’s county-wide damage, Thomas said this experience was surreal, but he said the county handled it well.

“We’re extremely fortunate that we had no injuries or loss of lives with the tornado on the ground. The tornado touched down probably less than one mile from our K-12 campus. The school implemented the safety plan, had the kids sheltered down and did a wonderful job with that. Through our CodeRed alert system and the NWS [National Weather Service] radio’s, hopefully, most of our county was notified and were able to be prepared for it,” said Thomas.

Thomas said they have experienced sporadic tornadoes in the past.

Individual groups in the county are helping with relief.

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