Marlena Lucas and her two sons were among about a half-dozen families displaced from their homes in Houston County when a confirmed EF-2 tornado struck Jan. 21.
“Just trying to get it back together,” Lucas said when asked how she and the boys were doing. “It’s going to be awhile before we get back to normal.”
Lucas and her sons, Patrick, 13, and Landon, 2, were inside their rented Windmill Court home when a tornado tore off most of the roof.
“We got out safely, so we didn’t get hurt at all,” Lucas said. “It was just very scary to go through.”
The rental home will have to be rebuilt, which will take time. Lucas hopes to find another home to rent in Warner Robins.
In the meantime, she and the boys have been staying with her parents in Fort Valley.
Lucas has been able to salvage some photographs from the severely damaged home and hopes to find her youngest son’s belongings unscathed.
She also was able to get her car free from where it had been trapped in the garage. The vehicle sustained some dents and dings but remained drivable.
“It’s coming slowly, but it’s coming together,” she said.
The neighborhood where Lucas lived is near the Wal-Mart on Booth Road. The National Weather Service has determined that the area sustained the worst damage from the tornado that first touched down on Andel Road in Peach County before traveling across Interstate 75 into Houston County.
The tornado tossed two large HVAC units on the top of Wal-Mart about 50 yards, blew in the auto-bay doors in the back of the store and twisted rafters on the other end of the store. The store’s roof was blown upward.
The damage closed the store for more than a week. It reopened Monday with limited hours of 6 a.m.-11 p.m. as repair work continues.
The tornado also took parts of the roofs of two Hidden Creek Circle homes and blew in doors and windows. More than 15 homes were damaged in a mobile home park along Maxwell Drive and Sherry Lane.
The storm did an estimated $7 million in personal property damage, said Houston County Emergency Management Agency Director Jimmy Williams.
However, the county did not qualify for Federal Emergency Management Agency assistance funds based on about $100,000 spent on response efforts, he said.
“That’s a good thing because that means that the storm was not that severe and we got away with no injuries, no lives lost and did not have that great of damage to have to worry about getting federal funds,” Williams said.
The tornado was among what has been determined to be a total 40 confirmed tornadoes across the state over a 36-hour period from 8 a.m. Jan. 21 through 8 p.m. Jan. 22, according to the latest weather service report.
That’s a record breaker for the state. The state’s previous two consecutive day record was 25 tornadoes on September 15-16, 2004, during Hurricane Ivan.
In April 2016, four tornadoes tore through Middle Georgia, including one that hit Houston County and damaged a maintenance building at Robins Air Force Base, among other damage.