WILMINGTON ISLAND, GA (WTOC) - Businesses on Wilmington Island were hit hard after a tornado passed through the area on Saturday.
Johnny Mercer Boulevard was littered with debris scattered across their parking lots. Several structures had roofs that were either completely caved in or torn off from the strong winds of the storm.
Employees that were working spoke with WTOC about what they did as the tornado approached.
“The wind started picking up and the rain started coming down," said Grant Tracy, an employee with Basils Pizza and Deli. "People started running for their lives pretty much.”
Tracy said he had just gotten a call-in order and started making the sandwich. Then he began to hear alerts on everyone’s phone inside the restaurant. That’s when he knew he had to do something.
“I didn’t know what else to do pretty much so I told people to get away from the windows," said Tracy. "Told people to go into the walk in and I started going out into the parking lot and telling people they could come into our business to seek shelter.”
Just behind the sandwich shop, the manager at Molly McGuires headed for cover.
“It was no wind at all and within seconds everything picked up and the bottom dropped out and we literally ran inside," said Layne Thomas. "I went to go close the front door to the bar and almost couldn’t get it shut.”
Thomas and his staff were setting up for a party that was planned for tonight. The large tent and band were already in place.
“The whole entire tent was uprooted and came and landed on Cancun over here," Thomas said. "It knocked down all the power lines. Our fence over here is halfway torn up.”
The businesses wasted no time cleaning up and getting things in order.
“We have been putting food in the freezers," Tracy said. "We have been cleaning up everything and we have been in the parking lot cleaning stuff up.”
Tracy and Thomas say that this is an experience they will never forget.
“It’s scarier and scarier," Thomas said. "Every time the warnings come along you really need to pay attention and get somewhere safe so – because you just never know. If it had gone up another hundred yards we would have been torn up as well.”
“It didn’t take long but it did enough damage to ruin some people’s day," said Tracy. "That’s for sure.”
These businesses hope to re-open on Sunday, but that will depend on when power returns.