THOMASTON — On a wall in Marcus Brundidge’s home, there are three signs grouped together that read “Faith,” “Love” and “Cherish simple pleasures.”
Those signs were one of the few things left untouched as an EF-2 tornado ripped through Upson County Sunday afternoon, causing severe damage to the Brundidge house and some other homes in the county.
But as those signs might suggest, Brundidge, 38, isn’t looking at the negative, which includes the loss of a lot of possessions and thousands of dollars in damage. As of Monday afternoon, it was still unclear if the house was even salvageable.
Instead, Brundidge is able to keep a positive outlook because of the simple fact that he, his wife and two children made it through the experience unscathed.
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“I feel blessed to be alive — blessed and honored that we’re all safe,” he said, noting the mess inside his home of 10 years. “All this stuff — the clothes, the windows, the furniture, even the house itself — can be replaced. I’m going to take the cross and keep going.”
Brundidge’s wife, Latisha, was watching TV at about 4:30 p.m. with their daughter Madison, 9, and son Luke, 6, when the signal was lost. Brundidge, who had just come home, didn’t think the storm was so bad at that point. But when the tornado sirens went off moments later, his wife didn’t hesitate to take the children into the laundry room.
“The winds picked up and the windows shook a bit, but I didn’t think it was anything of this magnitude,” he said.
When Brundidge went into the laundry room, that’s when the windows shot in. When he emerged from the room after the shaking stopped about 15 seconds later, he saw all of the damage.
“It really didn’t register with me,” he said. “I was shocked at all the damage that was done.”
Perhaps the most shocking damage to the family was a tree branch that propelled through a wall, jutting through near a pillow on his son’s bed. Had the storm taken place during the night while the family slept, his son could have been severely injured or worse.
The family stayed with Brundidge’s mother-in-law Sunday night and moved into a hotel Monday while the damage is still being assessed.
Brundidge said he and his family will have a little extra to be thankful for when everyone gets together Thursday for Thanksgiving at his mother-in-law’s house.
“The community came out in record numbers,” he said. “(The Georgia Emergency Management Agency), the Red Cross, all the churches, the sheriff’s office. They stayed. They moved furniture. Upson County came together like a family, and I thank God for it.”
Overall, it appears that seven houses in Upson sustained some sort of damage during the storm, and no injuries were reported. The leasing office at Logan’s Landing, the subdivision where Brundidge’s and other damaged homes are located, was completely leveled. A giant, split oak tree marks the spot where concrete bricks, wood and pink insulation lay scattered.
A Thomaston-based church organization, Families Feeding Families of Middle Georgia, set up a table in the subdivision with boxed lunches and drinks for families, rescue officials and workers.
Steve Hendricks, co-founder of the organization, said the group goes wherever they are needed. He said normally, the group would have spent Monday preparing Thanksgiving meals for the less fortunate, but the storm has taken priority.“I followed (the storm) on the scanner, and it was moving pretty fast from what I heard,” he said. “It’s a whole different day (in the neighborhood) today.”
Elsewhere in the midstate, at least two people in Monroe County spotted a funnel cloud hovering above the ground Sunday.
Monroe County Emergency Management Director Matthew Perry said the sightings have been confirmed by the National Weather Service, which sent crews to Crawford, Monroe and Upson counties Monday to survey damage. Tornadoes weren’t confirmed in Crawford and Monroe as of Monday evening.
Aside from damage to shingles, little structural damage was reported in Monroe County, where residents had a harrowing 30 minutes under a tornado warning.
All in all, Perry said, “things got bad, but it’s not the worst we’ve ever seen.”
According to the Monroe County EMA Facebook page, the Bolingbroke storm siren failed to go off during the storm. Officials were scheduled to test the siren Monday afternoon.
Yards were littered by debris and lawn furniture was tossed around, but aside from car accidents, no one was injured, Perry said.
An unconfirmed tornado touchdown was reported in a Crawford County field near Hopewell Road west and U.S. 80, said county Emergency Management Director Rick Sharon.
The storm downed trees, but no property damage was reported, Sharon said.
Storms brought record rain to Macon, which received 2.49 inches of rain, busting an old record of 2.45 inches set in 1942, according to the National Weather Service.
Telegraph writers Becky Purser and Amy Leigh Womack contributed to this report.