Tornado tears through area
By Faye Ellison
With the 2008 tornado season still fresh on the minds of Jefferson and Glascock County citizens, another intense spring storm swept through the area Friday night bringing with it wind, hail, lightening, possible tornadoes and large amounts of rain.
Though it may seem the recent weather activity has brought the dangers of Mother Nature up a notch in the last few years, Kent McMullen with the National Weather Service said that the storms are nothing new to this area.
“Every county in the state has had a tornado at some point and time,” McMullen said. “We just went through several years of drought and when we get droughts, we don’t get storms and a lot of people tend to forget their intensity. We always say, ‘If it’s happened once, it’s happened before.’ And sometimes these storms occur and no one reports them or sees them.”
From Friday night’s storms, McMullen said the National Weather Service’s office in Peachtree City only received one report of wind damage from the Emergency Manager in Glascock County. But there were a few places across the two counties that suffered possible tornadoes or microbursts from the unrelenting storm.
“It is quite possible it was a tornado or microburst, but we can’t say whether it was or not,” McMullen said Tuesday. “But their were three confirmed tornadoes in neighboring Hancock County.”
Though in two separate counties the activity found in Jefferson and Glascock were within close proximity. One area believed to be a possible microburst was on Logue Avenue in Gibson, while the others believed to be possible tornadoes were on Bethel Church Road located between Gibson and Stapleton and at Harts Grove Baptist Church just outside of Wrens and Stapleton.
Ralph Jordan, Deacon Chairman of Harts Grove Missionary Baptist Church, said he was first contacted about the damage to the sanctuary on Saturday morning, after the storm.
“I tried to come in on this road,” he said pointing to the extension of Harts Grove Road, “but the road was blocked. There were lot of trees down.”
As he approached the church, he saw pieces of its metal roof scattered hundreds of yards away in neighboring fields.
“The steeple was blown away,” he said. “Pieces of the roof were tore off. The marquis is still down.”
The bricks along the back wall of the fellowship hall were peeled away.
Numerous trees were down across the church’s property, a metal fence was bent and broken. Tombstones in the cemetery were blown over and broken.
“We called the county and sheriff’s deputies were sent right away,” Jordan said. “The county sent crews out to help with the cleanup. We are very grateful for all they have done.
“This could have been a lot worse. We could have been holding a service when this happened...but by the grace of God no one was hurt.”
Jordan said that New Zion Baptist, where the congregation held their previously scheduled Easter service, has offered to house the church’s regular services until repairs can be made.
Glascock County Sheriff Dean Couch said residents on Logue Avenue were in for a windy surprise when what was believed to be a microburst seized the area during the late night storm.
“There was a lot of bad lightening and thundering,” Couch remembered. “You could watch it go straight down to the ground between here and Avera.”
While he and his family watched the news to keep with reports of the hard-hitting storm, Couch said what happened next was an unexpected scare.
“I was standing at the back door about to open it, when a wind gust came and I felt the house shake,” he said Monday. “I saw stuff flying across the patio and yard. I got my family in the middle of the house in a hallway and the house began to shake violently. As soon as it started it was over with. It was kind of scary.”
Couch said his daughter and son-in-law had made it to his home only 30 minutes before the storm hit.
“Once it was over, we went outside going door to door checking on the neighbors,” Couch said. “Nobody got hurt. It was a blessing in itself.”
The area lost electricity until it was restored at 1:30 p.m. on Saturday. There was damage to homes and property including toppled trees. The storm even ripped the front porch off of a home and left the remnants of a shed in front of a Logue Avenue home that was missing siding.
“Some people were aware of the storm and some weren’t,” Couch said.
As far as it being a microburst or tornado, Couch still questions the fact, but he is certain “something” swept through the area.
“I do know. It took up gigantic oak trees by the roots, at least three of them in one yard.” he said. “Wind doesn’t normally do that, maybe a strong wind, but wind doesn’t just blow them up like that.”
On Highway 102 slightly outside of Gibson, a storage barn was crushed.
Couch also reported downed trees on Bethel Church Road. The storm seems to have left a clear cut tornado path, with pine trees uprooted and snapped in half crossing over Randgood Road and then over Bethel Church Road. The trees crushed an old home, a building with its tin components twisted in the tops of trees and left the county to clean felled timber from the roadway.
Glascock County Commission Chairman Anthony Griswell said the constant rain has slowed the cleanup.
“The road crew worked Friday night and Saturday to help with damage from the storm,” he said. “Our road crew needs to be commended, they have been fighting an uphill battle with all the rainfall we’ve had on our dirt roads. I just hope everybody will be patient with them as they work through these problems. With this amount of rain it is almost impossible. When you mix water with dirt, you got mud.”
But Griswell insists that Glascock County residents should remember how fortunate they are.
“If you look at the bigger picture we are very fortunate,” he said. “From Friday night’s storm and looking at other areas, Glascock County has been very fortunate to miss the storms over the last couple of years. Most of them have looked like they were headed straight for us.
“I travel to Hazlehurst quite often and looking at a dirt road on Friday that I pass all the time, I see people traveling it, but with a john boat.”
Even as Griswell spoke on Monday, the counties were receiving a fresh sprinkle from a thunderstorm crossing over the land.
“There is just so much water with this rain, so far it has fell maybe an inch at the most, but with the ground saturated it looks like a lot more water. We are using all of our resources trying to fight a fire from one end of the county to the other with this situation. We mainly need some sunshine and a five to 10 mile per hour wind.”
Davis wins runoff for District 3 seat
By Carol McLeod
Wayne Davis Sr. won a runoff election Tuesday, April 14, against Michael Brown.
Davis will complete the unexpired term of Sydney Norton who died last December. The term ends Dec. 31, 2010.
Six people qualified for the special election which was held Tuesday, March 17. As no one candidate emerged with a majority, the runoff was held between Davis and Brown, who were the two candidates with the most votes.
Chandrel Evans, the county’s registrar, said last week that approximately 2,700 voters were eligible to vote in this runoff.
About 900 people cast ballots in the runoff. Davis received 542 votes and Brown received 347 votes. Several provisional ballots will be reviewed Wednesday. However there are too few of these votes to change the outcome.
In Wrens, Davis received 289 votes while Brown received 252.
In Avera, Davis received 73 votes. Brown received 16.
In Stapleton, Davis received 91 votes. Brown received 53.
In Matthews, Davis received 42 votes. Brown received 18.
Absentee ballots and early voters cast 47 votes for Davis and eight for Brown.
This month’s Jefferson County Board of Commissioners’ meeting fell on the same night as the election. Commissioners rescheduled the meeting for Thursday, April 16, so the winner of the election could attend.
Davis will have to be sworn in to office before he can vote in a meeting.
Help on the road to recovery
By Kate Agel
There are cancer patients in Jefferson County who need to travel to Augusta for their treatments. The problem is, not all of these patients have means of transportation. For children with working parents, those who are too ill to drive and those without cars, it is difficult to make the trip to Augusta for necessary monthly, weekly and sometimes daily cancer treatments.
The American Cancer Society has an agenda to help form a solution, according to Lisa Bryant, community manager with the ACS. The Road to Recovery is a program that provides transportation for cancer patients to and from medical treatment by arranging volunteers from the community to be drivers.
“Augusta is the nearest medical community with a broad range of services,” Bryant said, “Jefferson Hospital offers some treatment, but not all.”
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“We haven’t had a chemo patient in over a year. We can give chemo, but it’s usually for low risk patients.” said Barbara Cofer, who is in charge of Chemotherapy at Jefferson Hospital.
Cofer said that though patients can be maintained at Jefferson Hospital, most of their medication and infusions have to be done at hospitals such as MCG and added that higher risk patients would need to make the trip to the larger hospitals.
Bryant said that for the most recent fiscal year, which extends from Sept. 1, 2007, through Oct. 31, 2008, the ACS in Augusta had 26 requests for transportation from Jefferson County.
“And that’s just the patients who know to call us,” she said. “You can imagine how many who are out there who do not even know to ask for that assistance. Since we have no Road to Recovery, it does limit what we can assist patients with.”
For the Road to Recovery to operate, volunteers must be willing to donate their time and to drive their personal vehicle. Bryant said that the volunteer schedule will be based completely on what the volunteer is able to provide.
“What we need is a supply of drivers,” said Bryant. “The volunteer would let us know what their schedule allows for. You wouldn’t be committing yourself to every day, just to what you are able to do.”
Those interested in contributing to The Road to Recovery’s cause will need to contact Lisa Bryant at ACS’s toll free number, (866)-227-0904.