Straight line winds were the cause of damages early Friday morning in Tifton and Tift County, says Tift County Emergency Management Agency Director Jason Jones.
During an interview later that morning at the intersection of Hickory Drive and Hartley Ave., where a tree had fallen and hit the side of a house, Jones told The Gazette that based on what they have seen in the area and the damage pattern, it’s consistent with straight line winds. He said all of the damage pattern indicates that the storm front was moving from southwest to northeast.
At approximately 8:30 a.m., Jones said he was notified about the weather conditions, which the storm moved quickly through, lasting only about five to 10 minutes. He said the damages ranged from the areas of Beech Street all the way out to Nashville-Isabella Road and between William Gibbs Road and Salem Church Road. Pitts Mobile Home Park on Highway 82 also received damages. There were some damages to the mobile homes that were not occupied.
As The Gazette took to the roads to take photos, damage could be seen to homes and buildings, such as some of Lowe’s storage buildings, Yancey Truck Center on Carpenter Road, Diamond Exposure Academy’s new facility on Marshall Drive and Brother Charlie’s Rescue Center on Beech Street.
Craig Tibbetts, manager of Yancey Truck Center, said the roofing on the back corner of his building was blown off and thrown into some trees in the back, as well as a steam cleaner. He noted that one of his drivers was outside unloading her truck during the chaos. He said she took shelter inside her truck. When they went outside to look for her, they saw that she was pretty shaken up. Tibbetts said the building was without power for a while, so he sent his employees home. He said they also received some damage to their service bay doors.
The tin roof at Brother Charlie’s had slid off, and part of the roof had been blown into a neighbor’s yard across the street. Residents there said they heard the tin falling and they went into the hallway for safety. They said everything happened quickly within minutes. A woman who lives behind the center said she heard the noise as well and thought that a tree had hit a nearby house.
Josh Haynes, owner of the baseball academy Diamond Exposure Academy, said they were in the process of moving from their old facility nearby, located off of Highway 82 near UPS, to their new facility on Marshall Drive, which was damaged by the storm. However, Haynes remains positive.
“It could have been worse,” he said, looking at the facility, which was lying on the ground in ruins. He added that they will be OK as they continue to pursue moving to that same location.
Other damages included down trees and power lines. Jones said the damages were not constrained to one specific area. He said fortunately, no one was injured. He noted that all roads in the county were open. However, some streets in the city were closed due to power lines being down but were expected to open soon.
Jones said overall damages were minimum to moderate. All local responding agencies were out in the community helping, following the storm.
Although TEMA has classified Friday morning’s storm as straight line winds, Jones said the National Weather Service would be providing their input after evaluating damages.
* The National Weather Service will be coming to Tifton at 2 p.m. today to evaluate.
To contact reporter Latasha Ford, call 382-4321.