Frank and Sue Freeman were watching the weather report on television Monday morning when Sue texted a friend in Gray to warn her about bad weather.
What the couple didn’t know was a tornado was bearing down on their own property.
“(Sue) just asked me where we’re going to go if it comes here, and I said, ‘I don’t know,’ ’’ Frank Freeman said hours later. “Then she said, ‘I hear a roaring sound.’ ”
He went to the front door and saw the destruction. His wife couldn’t believe it.
“It was too fast, and the roar was not loud enough that I thought it was right over me,” Sue Freeman said. “I didn’t dream it was this close.”
A mobile home they used for storage was ripped apart on their property, which has a Cochran address in the 2700 block of Longstreet Road in Twiggs County.
Based on radar reports and photographs, the National Weather Service survey team determined an EF-1 tornado with winds of 105 mph touched down in that south end of the county about halfway between Interstate 16 and U.S. 129, a few miles south of Ga. 96.
From the damage pattern, Twiggs County Chief Deputy Billy Boney thinks the tornado did not last long.
“It looks like it might have touched down and went on its way,” Boney said.
A barn was also damaged, and several trees were downed about two miles south, southeast of Mount Olive.
No one was hurt.
Frank Freeman went out immediately to check on his horses.
“They were nervous, but they were all right,” he said. “It was pouring down rain.”
The door was blown off the chicken house, and the peacock pen was blown into the woods.
“The chickens are OK. I didn’t see nothing wrong with any of them,” he said. “As far as I know they’re all good.”
The Freemans were thankful the twister didn’t head for their home, although they have debris to clean up.
“I guess I’ll have a big bonfire,” Frank Freeman said. “Bring your wieners and your marshmallows.”
Boney said no other damage was reported or found as deputies patrolled county roads.
A severe thunderstorm warning was issued in Crawford, Bibb, Monroe and Twiggs counties before 9 a.m., and a tornado warning came at around 9:30 a.m. for nearby counties of Jones, Baldwin and Wilkinson.
“We sent 11 spotters out, and everything looks great,” Jones County EMA Director Don Graham said after skies had cleared to a light rain.
No one was hurt when a tractor-trailer hydroplaned, hit a utility pole and overturned in the 1100 block of Eatonton Highway, which is near Fortville Road in Jones County, Graham said. The wreck caused a power outage about five miles outside of Gray, he said.
Another accident was reported during heavy rain on Ga. 22 in Haddock near the old cannery, but no one was hurt, he said.
Baldwin County Sheriff’s Capt. Michael Lumpkin reported blinding rain and some wind, but there were no reports of damage from residents or patrol units across the county.
“I guess we were fortunate,” Lumpkin said. “You couldn’t see but nothing too bad.”
The Wilkinson County Sheriff’s Office also did not receive any reports of damage from the storm.
The storm system that kicked up the severe thunderstorms brought winds of change delivering potentially record-breaking cold.
Temperatures will be in the mid-20s Tuesday morning in Middle Georgia, only warming to the low 40s during the day even under plenty of sunshine.
The normal low for Macon is 43 this time of year, and a typical high temperature is near 70.
By Wednesday morning, the low will drop to about 20 degrees with wind chills possibly in the teens. Wednesday’s high is only expected to reach the upper 40s before plunging into the mid-20s again overnight.
Temperatures are expected to be moderate by the weekend when highs will be in the 60s and lows in the 40s.
Telegraph photojournalist Woody Marshall contributed to this report. To contact writer Liz Fabian, call 744-4303.