‘Can’t replace a life’: Recovery efforts begin after storms sweep through CSRA

Published: Jan. 4, 2023 at 10:55 PM EST
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - Severe weather made its way across the two-state, bringing heavy rain, strong wind, and possible tornadoes.

Now it’s time to clean up. From Blackville to Burke County, we talked to people who are happy to be okay.

“I looked out my window and saw the trees blowing in the wind like they were just toys. I got pretty scared,” said Jerry Smith, Burke County resident.

As the lighting cracked across the sky, Smith says he took cover.

“I went into the bathroom and stayed there for a while. But the lights went out at about 10 o’clock. They came back on at one. It was scary. When we came out and looked at the damage, the roofs that are gone and all the trees that are down,” he said.

His neighbor Deborah Veal says she left for work this morning but she wasn’t expecting to return home to a torn-up backyard.

“When I pulled up, I was like, wow, you know, looking at it, you know, it’s a bit much. We’ve had bad weather before here. But nothing this big,” she said.

In Blackville, the National Weather Service believes a tornado touched down. They’ll survey the area from Elko to Orangeburg County Thursday to confirm. The wind from the storm was strong enough to knock a mobile home off its foundation and caused the Salley Community Pavilion to collapse in Aiken County.

Salley Community Pavilion collapsed in Aiken County during Wednesday's storm.
Salley Community Pavilion collapsed in Aiken County during Wednesday's storm.(WRDW)

While the damage is costly, those affected like Tom Gradous, are grateful to be alive.

“I feel blessed. I got my wife. I got my dog. The rest of it’s just a thing,” he said.

Veal said, “I’m not a materialistic person, you can always get those things replaced, but you can’t replace a life. So the biggest thing is my family and my animals because they are a family. I’m very thankful that you know, we weren’t here.”