Liberty Co. man describes moments leading up to early-morning storm

Debris cleanup started in Liberty Co. after early-morning storm

LIBERTY COUNTY, Ga. (WTOC) - Counties across Georgia and South Carolina were hit by strong storms on Monday morning.

If you drive down several streets in Liberty County, trees in roadways is what many people are dealing with after storms ripped through many neighborhoods.

Liberty County Emergency Management Agency Director Larry Logan said clean-up efforts could take days, even weeks, to clear the damage.

He said some of the hardest hit areas in the county were Riceboro, Midway and Sunbury. Roofs were ripped off houses, trees uprooted, some even on top of homes.

Liberty Co. man describes moments leading up to early-morning storm

You get a true sense of Mother Nature’s power by what’s been left in the Dorchester Village area of Midway.

“Where do you start at?”

That’s the question Mike Folker and many others in Liberty County are left wondering hours after a damaging storm left them cleaning up their yards and homes and downed power lines.

Folker is a lucky one. His home wasn’t damaged but he knows just how close his house was to the path of the storm. He can show you too.

“You can see where they all broke off over there. That comes from Riceboro way, come across my house, and go on to Sunbury.”

Clean up is underway there as well. The Sunbury Crab Company was just one place in the area hit hard by the storm Monday morning.

Drone video of Sunbury storm damage

“We heard loud stuff, a bunch of stuff. Somebody’s phone went off. grabbed the kids and got in the hallway,” said Lindsey Maley from Sunbury.

Liberty County Sheriff Steve Sikes was among those taking inventory of the damage Monday in Sunbury. He believes this was worse in terms of any recent hurricane.

"It's just going to take some time, take some time to get it cleaned up. We've been through storms before, but I don't know how many tornadoes have come through."

Back at Folker’s house in Midway, he knows this will all get taken care of soon enough. For now though, he’s counting his blessings and getting back to work.

“I’m just glad it wasn’t worse than it is.”

With many people devastated, Logan says they can't confirm if a tornado touched down, but by the damage it's very likely. He said their main goal is to get the county back up and running as soon as possible.

"We believe it hasn't been assessed yet, but we believe we had a tornado that touched down here in Liberty County. The most significant damage we've seen are power lines down, we had power lines on roads and trees that are down in the roads, some of those are clear but there's still a lot of power outages. We have estimated several hundred people without power in this area,” Logan said.

It’s a scene that’s hard to describe for some people.

“Never experienced anything like this, seen it on TV many times but I always thought those poor people, but to experience it was something different," Jimmy Cooler said.

Cooler says the moments leading up to the storms were surreal.

“I was sitting on the back deck, probably close to 8 o’clock the best I can guess, and the wind started getting up. I told my wife and children to get in the house.”

He says it was something he never thought he would ever experience.

“As I was coming in the house I looked to my left and everything had just atomized you couldn’t see it was like a heavy fog, the wind was roaring and I seen some limbs started turning loose and I got in the house and the whole thing probably didn’t last but 30 to 45 seconds.”

Cooler got emotional when reliving the moments.

“Just thinking about my neighbors and what they’ve lost.”

A time he probably won't ever forget.

“I was lucky. I lost some prized trees that I enjoy, but like I said, our safety is the first thing and we’re all safe. The rest of it can be fixed it can be repaired.”

EMA Director Logan said the damage assessment team will be out in the coming days.

Thankfully, no injuries were reported in the county.

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