Storms brought eight tornados to Georgia yesterday, and one delivered a nasty punch in our area. The tornado hit late yesterday afternoon near Highway 84 in Screven, Georgia, in Wayne County. Gov. Sonny Perdue has declared a state of emergency there and two other counties.
The Red Cross is still surveying homes, but so far as many as 200 houses suffered serious damage. A shelter has been set up and people are still reliving what they call a 20-minute nightmare.
Trees are uprooted, power lines down, and homes crushed. At first, Stan Smith figured the tornado warning in Wayne County was a false alarm. Then, it got really dark.
"I told Mom, 'This may be it. Let's go,'" he said.
Stan and his family hopped in their minivan. and headed for Screven to be with family. He thought they were moving out harm's way. He was wrong. "From the time I pulled in here and walked in the house, that's when all hell broke loose," he told us.
Fortunately, there were no serious injuries, but plenty of damage. Stan says hundreds of families experienced the same horror. "All of sudden windows start breaking," he recalled. "By the time you have time to be terrified, it was over. Just a little drizzling rain."
"My house can be repaired," said Screven resident Lanette Beaver. "We haven't lost nothing that can't be repaired."
Lanette is Stan's sister. While she and her neighbors pick up the pieces, she says everyone is helping out. "The spirit of Screven," she said. "Everybody pulls together in Screven."
But the sights and sounds of the tornado still have a haunting presence. "This is just not supposed to happen to you," said Stan.
They are still trying to restore power to some areas. And a shelter has been set up at the First Baptist Church in Screven on School Street.