NEWNAN, Ga. — One year after a tornado ripped through Newnan, people who live there still vividly remember the event. This included John Gardner who told 11Alive's Karys Belger about the moments he spent sheltering in his home with his wife.
"I said, 'Oh, come on, let's go. We got to go.' We ran downstairs into our bath, and as soon as I shut the door, the thing hit. I mean, it was that quick. It was one of the most horrible sounds I ever heard in my life, and my first thought was, 'Well, there goes my roof, you know, and then when it was over with,'" Gardner said.
Gardner said the damage was not as extensive as he originally thought, but it was still bad. He said he feels lucky it wasn't much worse.
"We had to have a lot of work done to our roof and to walls and floors and everything. But there are people in this community that were left with nothing," Gardner said.
The tornado caused hundreds of thousands of dollars in damage. In addition to homes and the local high school, the tornado also destroyed Newnan's precious trees. It's something Gardner notes has been missed by the community.
"This is just a hard thing for us to get used to in this area, is now you see houses instead of trees," he said.
Gardner and others in the community sought to change that ton Saturday by picking up a few trees to plant at the city's tree giveaway. The partnership between the city and Plant Newnan is an attempt to restore the area's natural canopy.
"When we heard about this, we thought this was a good idea because one of the things that we loved about this area when we moved here was the trees," Gardner said.
Pat Hopkins, a resident who was happy to pick up her tree, said it was a chance to sow seeds for the future of people who would live in the community.
"So exciting to get to start over there and have a fresh start for future generations," Hopkins explained.