In metro Atlanta, stories emerge from the splintered wood of downed trees

"You work your whole life to purchase a home like this. It's really overwhelming how fast that can come to a halt."

ATLANTA -- Drive around metro Atlanta and you'll see an emotional reaction as residents survey what's left behind. 

Anita Mitchell in Duluth teared up - thankful to be alive.

"Material things are material things," she said. "Human life is human life."

Her neighbors, though, were not as lucky. 11Alive was there as the Georgia Tree Company tried to clean up the damage left behind.

"It's overwhelming," Eric Wercholuk said. "You work your whole life to purchase a home like this. It's really overwhelming how fast that can come to a halt."

As we followed the crew around metro Atlanta, we met residents scrambling to find a place to stay as they watched crews try to salvage what's left behind

"I'll never forget the sound," Nathan DeWitt said. "Sounded like a bomb went off."

He said Florida evacuees were staying with him over the weekend.

"We were housing a grandfather, a mother, her two kids and a cat," he said.

He said the evacuees left just hours before the tree fell into the home. The room they were staying in was crushed by the tree.

"Tree comes in, there's no playbook for when a tree comes into your house," he said.

Nathan, like many others we spoke to, never expected he would ever need a tree company to come to the rescue.

"We help homeowners calm down to safely get away from the home," Wercholuk said.

Mitchell, although fortunate her home was spared, understands Irma's impact has left others in devastation.

"Some have nothing to go back to," she said. "Start from scratch."

She said this experience has made her more hopeful - and grateful - for life.

"In a twinkle of an eye, it can all be gone," she said.

The good news is that families said they have home insurance to cover the price of the damages. They're waiting to get quotes from insurance companies. The people who will really be financially impacted are those who didn't plan for the worst-case scenario and don't have the insurance to cover damages.

© 2017 WXIA-TV


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