Twister Touches Down in Wayne County - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

03/23/05

Twister Touches Down in Wayne County

During yesterday's storms, a tornado touched down, devastating the town of Screven, in Wayne County, Georgia. It caught most by surprise, giving them barely enough time to dive for cover. Screven's emergency crews simply aren't big enough to handle this type of destruction on their own, and they're counting on a lot of outside help.

The twister totaled more than a handful of homes. "Ain't much left but hope," said Greg Boyette.

He was sitting in his living room when he heard the hail bouncing off his roof like gunfire. He got up to close the door, right as a tree crashed through the roof above the chair he just got out of, crushing it.

"That's the only thing that kept it from, well, I guess tearing me, killing me," he said.

Boyette escaped without a scratch, much like most of the people in Screven. "As far as we know right now, very minor injuries," reported public safety official Mike Hargrove. "Scrapes and cuts."

Emergency crews and neighbors helped rescue five people trapped in buildings, including one man in a cabinet store on the outskirts of town, the most heavily damaged building. "He was in the second floor in the office area, and it was the only part of the cabinet shop that stood," said Hargrove.

Because this tornado touched down right before sundown, officials didn't have any idea immediately how many businesses and homes they were dealing with.

Crews hope they've got everyone accounted for, but still plan on going through the wreckage with dogs in the morning since tornados are so unpredictable by nature.

"I was all the way over there, heading out," said Tony Strickland. "The wind picked up my vehicle and it shifted me over here."

In addition, power was knocked out in the area. Amazingly, there are no reports of serious injuries. Officials had to wait until this morning to begin evaluating the damage done by the twister.

WTOC will continue to follow the story and bring you the latest as it becomes available.

Reported by: Chris Cowperthwaite, ccowperthwaite@wtoc.com

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