Surveying the damage after the tornadoes

Surveying the damage after the tornadoes

May 1st, 2011 By Timothy Bradfield in News

FLINTSTONE, Ga. - U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., toured the tornado destruction in Catoosa, Dade and Walker counties on Saturday.

In Walker County, the senator talked with homeowners in the Eagle Landing subdivision in Flintstone, who were hit hard by Wednesday's deadly storms.

One of those residents is Mike Rogers. Standing outside the splintered remains of his home, Rogers told Isakson that the whole experience was "surreal."

Rogers said he, his wife and two children had gone out to eat Wednesday. When they got home, the road to their subdivision was blocked by debris. They walked in the street to get to their house, which they discovered had been ripped apart.

"I never thought it would happen to us," Rogers said.

Isakson said he spent 33 years working in the residential real estate business and built a lot of houses in that time.

"So I understand what it takes to build one, and how sturdy and strong they are," the senator said. "To see houses literally destroyed by a storm shows you the magnitude of the devastation that can take place in a tornado."

Dale West's 81-year-old mother, who also lives in Eagle Landing, was lying on her living room couch beside a window.

West was looking out the window at the weather. When the storm swept in, he knew it was time to take cover.

"I put a pillow over her head and laid on top of her," West said.

Unlike neighboring Catoosa and Dade counties, Walker County didn't lose any lives to the storm. But a lot of property was destroyed or damaged, county officials said.

State Sen. Jeff Mullis, R-Chickamauga, and state Rep. Jay Neal, R-LaFayette, accompanied Isakson on his tour.

"A picture may be worth a thousand words, but being there in person is worth a thousand pictures," Rep. Neal said of the ravaged areas.

Isakson noted that President Obama signed a federal disaster declaration late Friday night, making federal assistance available to Georgia residents.

"FEMA will be in town coordinating with GEMA, the Small Business Administration, other government agencies, to get assistance to people who've been hurt," the senator said.

Timothy Bradfield covers Walker County. Contact him at timothyb2010@gmail.com.