South Georgia Residents Mark Third Anniversary of Killer Tornadoes

Valentine's Day is bringing anything but good feelings in the hearts of some south Georgia residents.

Three years ago today, a ferocious tornado ripped through Mitchell and Grady counties- killing 19 people and uprooting hundreds of trees along the way.

Shawn Sherlock takes us back to the Goodson community, a place some residents call their own ground zero. Life must go on, words Herman Thomas says he lives by every day, even after three years ago to the day, a vicious tornado ripped across this field taking everything in it's path, including his 27-year-old upholstery business and the lives of several close friends.

"It sounded like a freight train with a heavy load, I couldn't believe what I had seen it was terrible, you may not believe it, but I got pictures,” says Thomas.

And every year on Valentine's Day, Herman looks through hundreds of pictures and newspaper clippings, a reminder of how thankful he is to be alive.

Kate Jackson and Cilie Auson share that same sentiment, but also say not a day goes by when they don't relive that fateful night.

"How often do you think about it? Today, when it's bad weather now we don't even stay in a trailer no more."

"I lost my sister and her two girl in the tornado, it's terrible, I think about it right now. I hope nothing like this happens no more."

No more, and never, many say, here again. Extended Web Coverage

Safety Tips:

  • In a home or building, move to a pre-designated shelter, such as a basement.

  • If an underground shelter is not available, move to an interior room or hallway on the lowest floor and get under a sturdy piece of furniture.

  • Stay away from windows.

  • Get out of automobiles.

  • Do not try to outrun a tornado in your car; instead, leave it immediately.

  • Mobile homes, even if tied down, offer little protection from tornadoes and should be abandoned.

  • Occasionally, tornadoes develop so rapidly that advance warning is not possible. Remain alert for signs of an approaching tornado. Flying debris from tornadoes cause the most deaths and injuries.

Tornado Myths and Facts:

  • Myth: Areas near rivers, lakes, and mountains are safe from tornadoes.
  • Fact: No place is safe from tornadoes. In the late 1980's, a tornado swept through Yellowstone National Park leaving a path of destruction up and down a 10,000 ft. mountain.

  • Myth: The low pressure with a tornado causes buildings to "explode" as the tornado passes overhead.
  • Fact: Violent winds and debris slamming into buildings cause most structural damage.

  • Myth: Windows should be opened before a tornado approaches to equalize pressure and minimize damage.
  • Fact: Opening windows allows damaging winds to enter the structure. Leave the windows alone; instead, immediately go to a safe place.

  • Myth: Highway overpasses are a safe place to shelter if you are on the road when you see a tornado coming.
  • Fact: The truth is, any time you deliberately put yourself above ground level during a tornado, you are putting yourself in harms way. The best place is to lie flat in a ditch.

  • Myth: Tornadoes never strike big cities.
  • Fact: The downtown areas of "big cities" have had tornadoes on occasion. This past spring, a tornado passed through Miami before it moved out to sea, disproving the idea that they can't form in cities. Also, Salt Lake City had a tornado run through the downtown causing thousands of dollars in damage.

  • Myth: The southwest corner of a basement is the safest location during passage of a tornado.
  • Fact: The truth is that the part of the home towards the approaching tornado (often, but not always, the southwest) is the least safe part of the basement, not the safest. Homes that are attacked from the southwest tend to shift to the northeast. The unsupported part of the house may then collapse into the basement or pull over part of the foundation, or both.

Source: contributed to this report