Sunday morning storm rips through Appling County, Extensive damage


APPLING COUNTY, Ga. – Chimney’s torn apart, roads turned into stream and trees lying on top of homes is the image of Baxley and surrounding towns.

“The wind was coming this way and blowin toward the northeast maybe and everything was goin this way is what it looked like,” Payne Eason, who lives in the area, said.

“And it sounded like trash and hail and everything was just pinging on the windows and I jumped up and looked out but you couldn’t see anything because it was raining,” Jean Varnadoe, who lives in Appling County, said. “It was white.”

Eason and Varnadoe are describing the result of Sunday morning’s storm.

“It took the top out of the old big oak tree over here,” Varnadoe said. “The limbs are all down over the top of that tree.”

“There was one mobile home that was substantially damaged,” Vance Faircloth, Appling County’s Emergency Manager, said. “The residents, there were three of those, were taken to the hospital.”

Even the Zoar Methodist Church didn’t go untouched.

“Thankfully none of the trees hit the church,” Eason said. “All of these trees were blown down, but none of them hit the church.”

But the winds didn’t stop from damaging its steeple.

“The steeple’s leaning, the water is coming in there, but we’re still thankful that the building is standing and it’s still solid and sound and we’re gonna get back goin,” Eason said.

Faircloth said the southwest portion of the county was hit the hardest and they do have a plan to help keep everyone safe.

“Appling County High School is now serving as a shelter for Appling County,” Dr. Scarlett Copeland, Appling County superintendent, said. “We’re working very well in conjunction with our local EMA who asked us to open the shelter.”

They’ll provide warm meals, water, showers and cots to those wishing to take cover or who are in need of help.

“We have personal on deck who are already there ready to receive people and the American Red Cross is in route to help us with assistance on that as well,” Copeland said.

In the meantime, they’re trying to maintain a duel focus: protecting themselves and recovering from the damage already done.

“We’re trying to figure out what we’re going to do,” Eason said.

We are waiting to hear back from Appling County officials on the condition of those three injured in the mobile home.

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