Peach deputy gets a close up view of tornado

What happened to the flag pole at the Medical Center, Navicent Health?

Ray Collier, a witness to the damage at the Medical Center, Navicent Health, describes what it was like to see the flag pole bend under the pressure of the wind during the storm on Sunday.
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Ray Collier, a witness to the damage at the Medical Center, Navicent Health, describes what it was like to see the flag pole bend under the pressure of the wind during the storm on Sunday.

A tornado damaged homes in Crawford County on Sunday afternoon as a wave of strong storms hit Middle Georgia, the Chattahoochee Valley and part of Alabama.

One injury was reported in Crawford County. The storms also caused multiple tornado warnings in Bibb, Houston and Peach counties. Authorities reported storm-related fatalities in Beauregard, Ala.

Volunteer Fire Chief Randall Pate said a tornado damaged two homes on Greer Road and two on Wesley Chapel Road in Crawford County. A woman pulled from the rubble of a destroyed mobile home on Greer Road had a broken ankle. It was the only injury reported, he said.

“We were pretty fortunate,” Pate said.

The storm struck shortly after 3 p.m.

Peach County Sheriff Terry Deese said his county had trees down in the area of House and Greer roads, but no damage to homes and no injuries had been reported late Sunday.

Peach County sheriff’s Sgt. Shane Brooks got a close up view of the twister. With a tornado warning in effect, Brooks was following the storm on Duke Road. Soon he saw debris, including metal, swirling in front of his car and heard a whistling noise. He stopped his car and then saw the tornado coming right at him.

“It was moving so fast I didn’t have time do anything but just sit there and hold on,” he said.

The tornado, which he estimated to be about a football field wide, passed right in front of him with the outer edge grazing the hood of his car. This car shook violently but never left the ground.

“It was not something I would want to experience again,” he said.

Paul and Delise Knight saw the tornado from the porch of their home on Taylors Mill Road in Peach County. It was about two miles away.

“To be two miles away, it looked pretty big,” Paul Knight said.

Once they saw it had passed, they headed in that direction to see if anyone needed help. They saw a path of downed pecan trees they estimated to be about 200 feet wide. They followed the path and eventually got to the destroyed mobile home on Greer Road.

“I think God was holding her hand,” Delise Knight said of the woman pulled from the rubble. “The angels were taking care of her.”

Houston County’s Deputy Emergency Management Director Chris Stoner said a tornado was confirmed in north Houston County, but there were no reports of injuries or damage.

Chris Floore, spokesman for Macon-Bibb County, said while there was a tornado warning issued for the county there was no tornado.

He said 2-inch hail was reported at the Middle Georgia Regional Airport but there was no damage. A few trees were down in the area of Sardis Church Road. Those were cleared before dark.

High winds caused some damage around the Medical Center, Navicent Health, downtown including knocking over a flag pole and damaging two windows, according to hospital officials.

Storms also caused damage in the Chattahoochee Valley when a cell tower fell across a highway in Lee County.

Homes in Alabama were destroyed and authorities still were assessing the number of fatalities Sunday night.

According to the National Weather Service, Georgia recorded 21 tornadoes in 2018, and more than 100 across the state in 2017.

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Wayne Crenshaw has worked as a journalist since 1990 and has been a reporter for The Telegraph since 2002. He holds a bachelor’s degree in print journalism from Georgia College and is a resident of Warner Robins.