Looking back on Garden City twister one year later

(Source: WTOC/file)
(Source: WTOC/file)
(Source: WTOC/file)
(Source: WTOC/file)

GARDEN CITY, GA (WTOC) - One year ago, an EF-1 tornado tore through Garden City. The twister demolished an Advanced Auto parts store and left a trail of destruction more than two miles long. The recovery for some is still an ongoing process.

Jason O'Neil was coming back when he saw the tornado hop across Highway 80. When he finally got to his business, he couldn't believe what he saw.

"We're still in recovery mode. There's no doubt about that," said O'Neil, owner of the Garden City Auto Center.

A year later, he still walks around his property and finds debris from last year's tornado.

"The damage on the cars and the building was a little over $70,000," O'Neil said.

An employee at the time hid in a corner closet. Miraculously, the building only had minor damage. Outside, it was a much different story.

"The parking lot was utter destruction and chaos. It smashed up cars together," O'Neil said. "It literally broke the engine inside one car almost like someone took it and split it in two."

Across the street, an Advanced Auto Parts crumbled to the ground. Today, it's been rebuilt and is open for business. Surveillance video at another caught the strength of the storm as it came through.

"Could've been a lot worse than what it was. We're very fortunate nobody was seriously was injured," said Garden City Mayor Don Bethune.

That's a line you hear a lot in Garden City when it comes to this tornado. Another thing you'll hear is about the camaraderie shown by a small city like this.

"I'm still ecstatic about how well Garden City came together to help with such a traumatic event for the neighborhood," O'Neil said.

That teamwork and 12 months of hard work make the pain of this day a little smaller. O'Neil said nothing will make him forget it though. If there's anything O'Neill has learned, it's to make sure you have good insurance and know what it covers. Also, it's a good idea to have a backup plan.

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