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About two this afternoon, I heard the National Weather Service issue a tornado warning for Franklin county, Georgia, my home county. Then they listed the towns in the path of the tornado and I realized that my house lay in the exact line of the storm. A quick click over to wunderground.com later (the best weather site that I’ve found), and I got to watch the live radar feed as it showed the small cell move directly over my piece of the map — I was at work, twenty-some miles away.
I quickly got in the car and raced home, to make sure I still had one. I just made it out of Athens when a small funnel came out of the clouds and crossed the road a mere couple hundred yards in front of me. All of the traffic instantl pulled over and stopped — the funnel clearly had right of way. The emergency broadcast system began reciting a tornado warning as I said aloud, “I see it, I see it.” Only after it completed did I realize they were warning about a tornado another ten miles up the road. The warning about the one I stopped for didn’t come until a couple minutes later.
It was a slow drive home, as you can imagine. Trees were down across the highway, visibility at times was zero (I pulled over then), and I managed to get behind some semi-trailers going under 20 mph even when the storm let up.
As I got close to home, the damage became more apparent. One old farmhouse not far from me had one old oak tree on its porch and another in its living room. My immediate neighbor had the roofs peel off two of his large chicken houses (each one holds tens of thousands of chickens). Another neighbor had a pole barn go down. My house — was fine. A few tree limbs here and there, standing water everywhere, the plastic covering ripped off the greenhouse, but generally OK. Even the neighbor with the single-wide trailer sitting on five-foot high columns of concret block was fine. So the worst of it skipped over us.
I don’t know how much water fell, but it had to be a whole bunch. All of the tall grass on the property is flattened. The soil is beyond saturated. And, a bucket that was sitting inside the barn, five feet from an open window, had three inches of water in it.