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Tornado victims waiting for answers a month later

A series of tornados devastated areas of Georgia back in January.

GRIFFIN, Ga. — Nearly a month after devastating tornadoes destroyed thousands of homes in Georgia, there are homeowners who are still unsure of what they’ll do next.

The people leading the recovery effort in Griffin and Spalding say they’ve been through this before and that full recovery will take years.

On Kendall Drive, one of the hardest hit areas of Spalding County, there are dozens of damaged homes and debris piles.

Storm victim Emmett Ponder has heard from his insurance company, but still doesn’t know if he’s going to repair or replace his home.

“I don’t know if they gone destroy the whole thing or what,” he told 11Alive. “They said they’ll get back with me later. That’s all I know.”

A portion of Ponder’s roof is missing. Each new rain damages everything inside. For now, he’s living with family while his insurance company ponders the next step.

“Why does it take so long to get on the ground and put money in hand so people can start rebuilding their lives?” Ponder’s niece, Patricia Willis asked.

Despite his frustration, Ponder knows help is on the way. He has insurance but not everyone in Spalding County can say that.

The tornado impacted more than 2,000 structures in Griffin and the county at large. Families have scattered an some have temporarily relocated close to home.

“Others have decided to move with family in north Georgia and will forever no longer be in Griffin,” City Manager Jessica O’Connor said.

In 2011, another deadly tornado hit the area. Recovery efforts lasted for four years.

“Back then we only had 426 houses damaged,” Spalding Fire Chief and EMA Director Glenn Polk explained. “This is more impactful.”

Resources for storm victims can be found here.


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