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Killer tornado: Ten years after

Wednesday marks the 10 year anniversary of the killer tornado that ripped through the community in the wee hours of April 28, 2011. The tornado and the great flood of 1994 are the two biggest disasters in Lamar County’s modern history. The twister swooped in just before 1:30 a.m. not long after TV weather reports indicated the threat was over. It passed over a lake off McCard Lake Road in Pike County then touched down near the intersection of Piedmont and Turner Bridge roads, cutting a path of devastation before lifting back off around High Falls Lake in southeast Butts County. The squall line spawned a second twister that caused heavy damage in the Sunnyside area of Spalding County. Later classified as an EF3, the tornado left behind property damage in the hundreds of millions of dollars. On Grove Street, Paul and Ellen Gunter were killed. There seven-year-old daughter Chloe was spared (see related story in our 4.27.21 print edition). The tornado, like the flood 17 years earlier, proved just how close-knit our community is. Trees were still falling and power lines dangling when volunteers arrived in droves with chain saws, trucks and heavy equipment to help their neighbors in need. What was then a fledgling B-LC Community Foundation developed an assistance fund that raised considerable funds to aid in the rebuilding process. Ten years removed from that tragic night, trees and vegetation along the twister’s route have grown back. Most homeowners have rebuilt though there are several sites were only foundations remain. For those who lived through it and those who helped in the recovery, the memories of the 2011 tornado will always remain vivid. Note: Those of us at The Herald Gazette and worked tirelessly to cover the tornado, the rescue effort and the recovery. For that coverage, your newspaper was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize.

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