Middle Georgians describe storm's fury

Betty Mauldin said God woke her up Sunday.

The resident of Forest Place mobile home park in south Macon said it's a miracle she's alive.

As Mauldin lay in bed sleeping, she awoke because she thought her trailer was falling over.

She opened her eyes and saw a tree had crashed through her roof and onto her bed.

As soon as she jumped out of bed, Mauldin said, a metal beam from the trailer fell onto her pillow.

"It's a miracle I didn't get killed," Mauldin said, standing in her bedroom looking at the sun shining through the gaping hole in her roof.

Downed trees closed the only road into the mobile home park.

Twin brothers David and Daryl Ord said they weren't going to wait for anyone to rescue them and their stranded neighbors.

The brothers took to the street, chainsaws in hand, cutting through trees and branches while other residents dragged debris to the side of the road.

"We didn't want to waste time and stand by and wait," Daryl Ord said. "We have able bodies."

Sheila Harris, the overnight clerk at the Scottish Inn on Romeiser Drive in south Macon, was behind the desk surrounded by glass when the storm hit.

"I was watching the glass move in and out and I moved into the bathroom," she said.

Edward Warre was sleeping at the motel when a loud bang woke him up. The wind, the lightning ... you could hear the trees cracking and the metal bending," said a visibly shaken Warre as he held his 2-year-old daughter in the motel parking lot that was littered with aluminum roofing, glass, insulation and power lines.

Mike Patel, the motel's owner since 1992, said he believes one of his buildings was completely destroyed. The roof was blown off, most of the windows in the front were blown out, allowing rain to pour inside.

"I've never seen damage like this," he said. "Never in my life."

Residents staying at the Econo Lodge across the street didn't fare much better. The aluminum roof of that motel was strewn about for blocks hanging from power lines, wrapped around poles, dangling in trees and scattered in the streets.

Jason Capps, of Jesup, was staying there, in Macon to do contract work at a paper mill. The motel roof fell on his work truck.

"I was getting up for work," Capps said. "I heard the (tornado) siren go off."

Capps said he turned on the news and saw he was in the path of the tornado.

"I ran next door and told my co-worker a tornado is coming and ran back to my room," he said.

As soon as he closed his door, the lights went out, Capps said.

"I looked out the window and could see trees in the air and the roof coming down," he said.

Eddie Horne, another guest at the Econo Lodge, was in town to visit his mother for Mother's Day.

"My mother woke me up and I told her to go back to bed," said Horne sitting on the curb in the motel parking lot. "I looked out the window and saw my truck was OK and then (my mother) told me a tornado was coming. I looked out the window again and there goes my Suburban," Horne said, pointing to his truck that was nearly crushed under the motel roof.

Carol Kaplan, owner of Carol's Linens on Eisenhower Parkway, said she's glad the storm hit when it did.

"No one was hurt," she said today in her business' parking lot. Most of the front of her building was ripped off by high winds.

"My main concern is to get the store up and running for my employees who depend on Carol's Linens for their livelihood," she said. The store has been in business for 30 years.

Much of the roof at the Goodwill building next door to Carol's Linens was blown off. Insulation, roof tiles and metal were scattered about the parking lot.

Across the street at Lowe's, roof damage allowed water to leak into the store. Lowe's remained opened with limited power and was allowing customers entrance one at a time into the store.

The steady stream of customers were mostly buying chain saws and generators, and store manager Dale White said other Lowe's stores in the area were sending him extra shipments of those popular items.

"Next week it will be shingles," White said.

Across the street at Macon Mall, a large portion of the front of the former Parisian department store was blown off and insulation was scattered around the parking lot.