Tornado confirmed as source of Henry County damage

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SCREAMER – The National Weather Service visited the Screamer community on Thursday and confirmed that a tornado is what caused damage there the day before.

According to Henry County Emergency Management Agency Director Ronnie Dollar, it has been confirmed that a tornado did travel through the northeast portion of Henry County.

“At this time all we know is a tornado did come through the area,” Dollar said. “However, we will not know any additional details until later, such as the strength of the tornado.”

Everyone has now turned their efforts to the clean up process. The Henry County Road and Bridge Department, as well as volunteers, are working non-stop to make all roads accessible.

Henry County asks residents living in the Sunset Acres Subdivision and along Calhoun Drive to place all trees and limb debris by the road for pickup. The county will offer debris pickup to those affected the week of April 17 and the week of May 15. Any debris left after May 15 will be the responsibility of the owner. No household or demolition debris will be picked up.

According to Dollar, all electrical services have been restored to homes that were able to have electrical power restored.

“We have homes in the area that power can’t be restored,” Dollar said. “The damage is too severe. At this time we can’t even give an exact amount of homes that received damage. We are still predicting around 20 to 25 homes. It is just hard to determine. They are clustered together, and then they get spaced apart. At this time we are still just working on getting the roads cleared. We have several service companies coming and going trying to restore their services. At this time, we can’t say how long it will be before all services are restored.”

Wednesday evening following the storm, some residents who were affected had to seek shelter due to the storm damage.

“Our first concern after the storm was making sure everyone was OK,” Dollar said. “After we determined there were no injuries our attention fell to helping individuals find shelter if they had nowhere to go. Thankfully, the First Baptist Church of Abbeville helped assist in that matter last night. The church paid for families to have shelter if they needed it.”

The American Red Cross will be assisting northeast Henry County residents affected in the Screamer community. Dollar, along with volunteers from the Screamer Volunteer Fire Department, Abbeville Fire Department and the Shorterville Volunteer Fire Department, are working with the American Red Cross to set up assessments of the area.

“We have six to eight volunteers who will head to Screamer today,” American Red Cross Disaster Program Specialist Kenneth Rice said Thursday. “We have the plans ready and depending on how long the recovery efforts take will depend on how long we need to be in the area. The first thing we will do when we arrive is set up areas to feed recovery personnel and anyone located on the scene needing a meal. We will also assist in any other way our services are needed.”

According to the information given to Rice, several of the homes damaged may be vacation rentals.

“There is not a lot we can do for vacation rentals,” Rice said. “But, for occupied residential rentals or home owners residing in their home that have been affected during the storm, if assistance is needed we can help. It all depends on the determination of the damage assessment.”

Anybody who would like to help those affected by the tornado can make a donation to the American Red Cross Disaster Relief by calling 800-RED CROSS.

by Michele W. Forehand
Apr 6, 2017

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Kyrie Wagner