Tifton Gazette

Local News

December 17, 2007

Tornado terrorizes Turner

TIFTON — The City of Ashburn sustained heavy damage and one man was killed when a tornado touched down there Saturday evening. “We had 155 homes damaged and lost three historic buildings downtown,” said City Manager Ben Taylor.

Taylor said the tornado was a class F-1. “We had very little advanced notice,” Taylor said. “It had hit in Sylvester, and the fire department got a call.”

Taylor said that the historic buildings in downtown were the State Farm Insurance building, another local business and a vacant building.

Although there were no fatalities from Turner County, Taylor said a trucker who was passing through the area on Interstate 75 was killed when the tornado struck.

Edgar Perry, coroner for Turner County, said the victim was Gabriel Dawson, 42, who drove a truck for Toys R Us out of Atlanta. “He was going north on I-75 about the time the tornado hit,” Perry said. “He got caught up in the tornado.”

Perry said the tornado evidently picked up the truck and threw it in a ravine. “We found the truck about 7:30 a.m. Sunday,” Perry said. He said the body has already been transported to Murray Brothers funeral home in Atlanta.

“We have lots of clean up to do,” Taylor said. “We have some volunteer groups that have come in. There are a lot of trees in the yards.”

Taylor said the Red Cross and Salvation Army are on site and GEMA is doing an assessment of the damage to get a dollar figure. “We’ve got everyone with the city working,” Taylor said.

He said Georgia Power and Irwin EMC had restored power to the homes that were damaged. “We didn’t have any disruption with natural gas or water service,” Taylor said. Although some of the homeowners were displaced, Taylor said they have all found shelter, and no one used the shelter that was set up Sunday night.

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