Local Update - March 5, 2007

Georgia insurance commissioner visits Thomson

Saturday (March 3), Georgia insurance commissioner John Oxendine stopped through Thomson to assess the storm damage. He has been traveling across Georgia, visiting places destroyed by tornadoes.

Oxendine estimates recovering from the damage will cost $35 million.

He spent two hours with victims, giving advice on insurance matters and answering questions. He told on-scene insurance adjustors to "Take care of my folks".

Oxendine is urging everyone to be prepared for the worst.

"It is going to be a very expensive storm...a very expensive night," he said. "Prepare now, because this could happen again, and we need to be ready for it."

Oxendine calls his $35 million storm price tag a very conservative estimate and expects that number to rise.

If you have any questions or concerns about your insurance for storm damage, you can call his office at 1-800-656-2298.

Thomson teen takes care of family after storm

For one Thomson family, the burden of the cleanup is falling on a 15-year-old.

Three trees fell through Kelvin Rocker, Jr.'s roof.

Kelvin's father, Kelvin Rocker, Sr., is serving his second tour of duty in Iraq.

The teenager has been busy not only cleaning up the debris, but keeping his three-year-old brother from getting hurt.

The Rocker family lives in the Hickory Hill neighborhood, which saw some of the worst storm damage.

Red Cross shelter open in Thomson

There is help for families trying to get their lives back to normal after a tornado destroyed homes in McDuffie and Warren counties.

The American Red Cross has a shelter set up in Thomson.

As of Saturday, March 3, volunteers had opened as many as 30 cases, assisting 75 individuals.

217 meals and snacks have been served, and 32 comfort kits are now in the hands of storm victims.

75 volunteers have stepped in to help, and already the Red Cross has shelled out close to $18,000 in aid.

Rev. Sharpton to Edgefield

He's been backing James Brown's family since Brown's death. Now, Rev. Al Sharpton will return to our area today to do some research on his own family.

He's recently learned his great grandfather, Coleman Sharpton, was a slave belonging to relatives of Sen. Strom Thurmond.

He also found out his great-grand-father cost $276.

This morning, Sharpton visited the Edgefield Cemetery where the Sharptons and the Thurmonds are all buried.

Kidnapped Evans child returns safely

A month long search ended happily when a 14-month-old was returned to his mother all the way from Mexico.

Deputies say Ezekiel "Zeke" Brown was taken more than a month ago by his father William Brown.

Sunday he and his mom arrived back at their Evans home.

The couple was battling for custody when Brown picked his son up from his Evans daycare and never returned.

Texas authorities found Brown three weeks later after finding his car and tracing his ATM transactions to Mexico.

Texas marshals had to go across the Mexican border and get the toddler. Lois Brown and her mother Brenda flew to Texas and were reunited with Zeke Thursday (March 1).

Now William Brown is behind bars at the Columbia County Detention Center.

Couple wanted for child abuse

A married couple is wanted this morning for allegedly beating a six-year-old girl.

The two were supposed to be taking care of her.

27-year-old James Elam and his wife, 28-year-old Krystal are wanted for felony cruelty to children. Police say the victim is six years old and the two are her guardians.

They say the young girl has injuries all over her body from repeated physical abuse.

There are no reports of any other children living with the couple.

Investigators worry the Elams are preparing to run.