Jefferson County works to rebuild

By: Chris Thomas Email
By: Chris Thomas Email

News 12 first at five, March 17, 2008

Matthews, GA---"There are houses now where there wasn't houses. There are no houses where there used to be houses," said Chief Barrow Walden He is fire chief in Matthews, GA.

When a tornado struck his small town of 800 Chief Walden says he sprung into action. "I got my family to safety and while the storm was still in our area I came back into the community," said Chief Walden. He did it with no regard for his own safety. "I just knew that my safety wasn't up to me. I just came back in to help," said Walden.

He says what he found will haunt him for years to come. "I felt totally helpless. I had families crying. I had children screaming. Everybody was looking to me for help, and we just did what we could."

The storm left them stranded in field of darkness. "The cellphones were useless. The radios were useless." Chief Walden says he has never seen such devastation. "I've seen T.V., and I've never had to live through it. I hope and pray I never have to go through it again."


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  • by karen Location: matthews on Mar 24, 2008 at 10:13 PM
    I am chief Walden's mother and I am so proud of him and all the volunteers that horrible Saturday evening.I too will never forget that evening.The sound,the smell of pine,the helplessness of not knowing if my six children and nine grandchildren were dead or alive. I have watched this small community which was shut down by fear and lack of assistance for several hours rise to the needs of others. Even though my entire family was affected by the tornado I have watched them give of themselves when they could have stayed in their own homes. I am so proud of all six of my children for serving this small little Georgia community. On Easter Sunday these words are written on our company sign "Christ has risen and Matthews will too". This is what I am watching take place more and more everyday in this small unincorporated little community where I and my family are proud to call home.
  • by Wanda Location: Matthews,Ga on Mar 17, 2008 at 10:15 PM
    Having been a member of this community fo 38 years, I have always known that the people in this small community of 800 were good people who care about their community and their neighbors. Chief Walden is a person who would take the shirt off of his back to help someone within his fire district, and others even if they wereoutside of his district. Amy James our only female volunteer firewomen, has been out their for a minimun of 14 to 16 hours a day since the storm hit. She has asked and got the help from Trish Arrington and she has alo put in 15 to 16 hours a day, Her husband Officer Arrington has been trying to make sure that everyone is accounted for working side by side with the fire dept. We asked for help on Sunday from someone or anyone and we were denied. Today we got help from one company that pulled their crew off a road construction job to help, the red cross finally came around2to 3 this afternoon, But we still need help getting clothing, household items contact Matthews FD
  • by mistie20002 Location: Thomson on Mar 17, 2008 at 06:40 PM
    I think georgia is about in need of a tornado whistle. it is getting more common down here for tornadoes. these whistles saves lives.
  • by mistie20002 Location: Thomson on Mar 17, 2008 at 06:37 PM
    we was lucky for the second time around all that happened here was cable went out sat until sun at 5.
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