They drop out of the sky unannounced. In a matter of a few seconds they can cause intense destruction and even death. That’s exactly what happened this past weekend when a string of possibly 39 tornadoes spawned by storms hit Georgia, Mississippi and northern Florida leaving 20 dead in their paths.
There is hardly a place that’s immune from the torque of a tornado — mobile homes, brick homes, facilities at Robins Air Force Base, a Wal-Mart, all fell victim to the swirling funnels of wind. Fortunately no lives were lost in our coverage area, however, that was not the case further south where 15 people died during Sunday’s storms in Georgia. Four died in Mississippi on Saturday and one in Florida.
While the National Weather Service has crews out surveying the damage and evaluating the strength of each of the tornadoes, whether they were or were not is not a question. The last time a tornado hit the Warner Robins area was last April Fool’s Day morning when an EF-1 with 90-mph winds caused $14 million in damage. Three other tornadoes hit other areas of Middle Georgia that same day.
In November 2014, one tornado rumbled through Upson County and Monroe County and another came through southern Houston County. Back in 2008 tornadoes rolled through Crawford and Bibb counties on Mother’s Day morning causing extensive damage but no loss of life.
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What can we do to help storm victims? The Georgia National Fairgrounds and Agricenter posted on its Facebook page Monday that it is collecting donations to help the south Georgia victims. Items will be collected through Friday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Anyone who has been through such a disaster knows the help will be appreciated.
Anyone with questions can call 478-988-6483. People should go to the east gate and will be directed where to go from there. Suggested items include bottled water, nonperishable foods, any sized clothing for men, women and children, along with all types of personal care items.
Macon-Bibb County Coroner Leon Jones is accepting donations of bottled water at Mitchell’s Automotive, 4281 Interstate Drive in Macon, from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Thursday and 8 a.m.-1 p.m. Friday. He plans on taking the donated water to storm ravaged Wilcox County Friday afternoon.
There is something residents can do to give themselves advanced warning of an approaching storm. In Houston, Peach and Crawford counties, residents can sign up for the Code Red notification system that will call or e-mail them in case a severe weather event is approaching. Monroe County has its own phone notification system and Macon-Bibb County has MBC Alerts that can notify residents by phone, text message and email about potentially dangerous situations in their area. The county’s EMA is also active on social media and emergency sirens are situated throughout the county. To sign up for any of the services in the respective counties, all residents have to do is go to the county’s emergency management website and fill out a form. The site for Macon-Bibb’s MBC Alert is www.maconbibb.us/mbcalert.