Georgia man, wife and dog survive hurricane-spun twister using sofa as shield

Hurricane Michael tornado survivor says trees hit like bombs

Crawford County, Georgia, resident Wayne Granade describes being hit by EF-1 tornado spawned Oct. 10, 2018, by Hurricane Michael.
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Crawford County, Georgia, resident Wayne Granade describes being hit by EF-1 tornado spawned Oct. 10, 2018, by Hurricane Michael.

The power zapped off, the sky disappeared and all Wayne Granade could see were trees in the air — flying trees.

There had been reports Wednesday afternoon of a tornado out his way, five of so miles southwest of Roberta.

But the weather had yet to turn nasty, so Granade was on his porch, keeping watch.

His wife, Sharon, stood in the doorway.

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Wayne Granade steps out of his home where he survived a barrage of twisted treetops in an Oct. 11 storm. Beau Cabell bcabell@macon.com

They made a plan.

If a twister came, they’d flip their living-room sofa upside down and hide beneath it.

A little later, about 4 p.m. as Hurricane Michael swept into south Georgia, a likely tornado spun up by one of the hurricane’s tendrils roared over the hillside.

Granade, 52, a self-employed builder, bought his place on Flint River Estates Road a decade ago.

The beige, ranch-style home with a sky-lit addition peeking over its roofline, sits on a rise above Radford Branch.

The branch runs under nearby Ga. 128 on its way to the Flint a mile and a half to the southwest.

About 4 o’clock after the power flashed off, Granade said, “All hell broke loose.”

“All I saw was trees,” he said, “whole trees coming.”

He and his wife scrambled to the couch.

They threw it on top of them.

Wayne Granade’s smashed garage, or what is left of it, after a Hurricane Michael-wrought EF-1 twister destroyed it Wednesday. Joe Kovac Jr. jkovac@macon.com

There was just enough room for them and their Chihuahua-Yorkie mix, Lexus.

Outside, their 800-square-foot garage that doubles as a workshop all but imploded, smashed by hurtled pine and hardwood parts.

Another tree crash-landed on the back of their house.

Strewn limbs lashed the walls.

“Sounded like bombs,” Granade said.

“There was stuff on the walls just blowing off, busting on across the floor. ... A set of deer antlers come by me, whoom, wide open.”

His wife screamed.

“I was like, ‘We’re gonna be all right, baby,’” Granade said. “Then I told myself, ‘I don’t think we’re gonna make it.’”

An Atlanta TV news crew reports from Wayne Granade’s yard in western Crawford County on Thursday after an apparent tornado spun off by Hurricane Michael roared through on Wednesday afternoon. Joe Kovac Jr. jkovac@macon.com

No sooner had he told her that, in an instant, the sky cleared.

“The sun come out that quick,” he said, “and I said, ‘Lordy, Lordy.’ ... And it was gone.”

By Thursday morning, television news crews from as far away as Atlanta had flocked to his yard.

A window on his white Chevy pickup parked out front was busted when bowled-over trees smothered it.

A friend riding by pulled up and told Granade, “I saw your truck on the news.”

Meanwhile, Granade’s dog, Lexus, had yet to recover from the storm’s fury.

“She’s still scared this morning,” he said. “My wife’s still scared, too.”

James Litton, a deputy with the Bibb County Sheriff's Office, talks on Thursday about how officers bring their personal chainsaws to help get trees off roads after Hurricane Michael tore through Middle Georgia.