Tornado Leaves Screven Families Homeless - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

03/24/05

Tornado Leaves Screven Families Homeless

A view of the damage. A view of the damage.

A tornado ripped through the Wayne County town of Screven near Highway 84 Tuesday, carving a path of destruction a quarter mile wide. A lot of people lost their homes and don't have a place to stay.

Many are turning to family members and a lot are heading to motels, but with 50 houses and 20 mobile homes damaged, there are a lot of people who need help.

Wednesday, Screven started cleaning up. "We're getting all of our stuff that we can keep, but most of it's pretty much destroyed," said Rance Boyette.

The twister that tore through town has left dozens of families without a place to stay. Through this weekend at least, the First Baptist Church of Screven's going to be headquarters for those who need help, whether it be a hot plate of food or help finding a place to stay.

The Keyheas hoped to stay with their daughter, but there's already too many people there, so they're asking for help. "We're going to have to squeeze in with somebody else if they can't find us a room," Niccie Keyhea said.

Meanwhile, the Boyettes are packing up as much as they can from their destroyed home, and then heading to Jesup to stay with family for a few days. After that, they're not sure what they're going to do.

"Farm bureau's supposed to be back out tomorrow with the adjusters and the insurance commissioner's out, and we're going to talk to them about what we're going to be doing from there," Melvin Boyette told us.

Georgia's insurance commissioner, John Oxendine, flew in to take a look from the sky himself. Afterward he talked with people about their options. He says all the insurance companies have been put on notice: they need to act fast with this one.

"We told them to get people out of bed and you tell them to get in a car and pack a suitcase and come down here to Screven, Georgia, and they'd better spend time here because I don't want to get any complaints," Oxendine said.

Screven's still got a lot of visible damage, and police want outsiders to stay away for a few days. Rubberneckers flooded the town yesterday, making the cleanup pretty tough.

Reported by: Chris Cowperthwaite, ccowperthwaite@wtoc.com

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