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Spalding County residents 'in awe' they survived tornado after storm left behind 'mangled mess'

The Spalding County community was hit hard last Thursday after a severe storm brought tornadoes that destroyed the homes of many residents.

SPALDING COUNTY, Ga. — Spalding County officials announced Monday they are helping residents get the help they need after severe weather caused tornadoes and damaging winds last Thursday. The road to recovery could stretch on for weeks or even months as residents scramble to consider what's next after their homes were destroyed.

During Thursday's severe storms, county officials said multiple twisters touched down in the area.

"Last Thursday evening at approximately 4:30, Spalding County and the City of Griffin suffered a direct impact of what we believe were five tornadoes," said Steve Ledbetter, Spalding County Manager.  

Residents recalled the moments they tried to protect their loved ones during the storm.

"I yelled at my kids to get in the laundry room and within 12 seconds the first tree hit the house. More trees hit the house and we felt the wind lifting our house," said Beth Meneses, a Griffin resident.

Meneses and her two teenage sons have lived at Pine Glen Mobile Home Park in Griffin for the last two years until Thursday when a tornado touched down. Now they are uncertain of where to go next, with even their car badly damaged.

“Our family is split up right now because we don’t have a home, we don't have a vehicle,” said Meneses

For Griffin residents who are struggling to find a place to live, The Red Cross has two shelters they've set up in that area.

  • First United Methodist Church at 1401 Maple Street in Griffin
  • City Park Gym at 601 Camp Northern Road in Griffin 

There will also be bus routes that people can take to and from the shelters as they figure out their living situations. 

The county emergency manager said the department received over 2,000 emergency calls after the storm hit. No one died during the storm in that area, officials said. At least 2,700 residents are currently without power as workers try to restore it.

The Griffin-Spalding School System has announced that schools will remained closed to students, but staff will report on Wednesday. Officials are still trying to determine when it will be safe for students to return to school again and ask parents to pay attention to additional announcements. 

Even as crews work to remove trees and clear roads, Meneses said the toll of destroyed homes is growing, but she is glad to see the community survive.

"It’s a very mangled mess on the inside it’s a total wreck and disaster. The initial shock has worn off and now it’s just awe that so many of us survived,” Meneses said.

Spalding County officials plan to update residents daily as recovery efforts continue. They are currently asking people to wait for Georgia Department of Transportation workers to pick up debris instead of doing it themselves.

Victims of storm damage in the Spalding County area or those who would like to volunteer to help others affected can call at 678-453-4508 for additional information. Those who might be suffering from mental health crises in result of the storm can call 988.

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