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Saturday marks 5 years since Jan. 22 storms

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Published: Jan. 21, 2022 at 7:23 PM EST
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ALBANY, Ga. (WALB) - Saturday marks five years since an EF-3 tornado ripped through Albany during its 70 mile path.

Southwest Georgia is still learning lessons from that deadly Sunday afternoon.

Some people are still recovering from those devastating tornadoes. During the initial cleanup, community members, whose own homes were destroyed, gathered to help.

The Albany Chain Gang was a group that formed from that event, and they continue with disaster relief to this day. Still, they remember the tornado outbreak five years ago.

Video from WALB

The path — 70 miles. The peak winds estimated at 150 miles per hour, according to the National Weather Service’s survey of the EF-3 tornado in Albany.

“It was one of those times in the worst adversity, our community definitely came together. That was one of the blessings. But obviously, we probably could deal with all of that destruction that day,” said First Alert Meteorologist Chris Zelman.

As the rubble cleared, a disaster relief group Albany Chain Gang formed.

“We would go into these homes and on these properties to help people clean up. And finding out where they were, compared to where the tree landed” said Teresa Knight, the logistics coordinator for the Albany Chain Gang.

Knight and the Albany Chain Gang were far from the only one’s serving southwest Georgia.

“People came from all over the area to serve our community. And to remember their sacrifice to help us become whole again,” said Knight.

Teresa Knight talked with WALB News 10 about what she remembers about the January 22, 2017...
Teresa Knight talked with WALB News 10 about what she remembers about the January 22, 2017 storms.(WALB)

With the destruction left behind, there were also stories of survival.

“I was like, ‘wow, did that big tree fall on your home?’ And she said, ‘no, it was blown into the home.’ And I pan over about 50 feet and there was the foundation of her entire house,” said Knight.

Lives were spared by mere inches and by listening to officials and getting into your safe place.

And it wasn’t just in Albany. Cook and Brooks counties also got ravaged by a tornado earlier in the day. A memorial now sits in place to remember the lives lost from that tornado.

“A lot of people then say, ‘What about my app? I have an app.’ Your app is just a computer. The story needs to be told by a meteorologist,” Zelman said.

Zelman said being weather aware and having a reliable source of information saved lives that day. Sources like a weather radio or local news on your phone.

Zelman said he hopes everyone now knows the importance of things like this, five years later.

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