Valentine's Day Tornadoes Remembered in Camilla, Georgia

By: Caroline Gonzmart Email
By: Caroline Gonzmart Email

Residents say it was 'an experience [they'd] never forget.'

The tornadoes that touched down in Camilla, Georgia are some of the worst on record.

Emergency workers say 11 people were killed and an estimated 200 were injured in twisters that reached an "F-3" level on the Tornado table.

Annie Lee Jones' house was relatively undamaged in the storm, and she took in many neighbors whose homes had been destroyed by the twisters.

Says Jones, "I just couldn't believe what had went down ... but then when people started knocking on the door saying their house was 'no more', we opened this door and they started coming in, neighbors just coming in."

Todd Harrell was living in Camilla at the time, and lost his wife and their baby daughter to the deadly storm.

Harrell says, "The last thing I remember is the mobile home being pulled left to right, and it's like the floor imploded ... and I felt water, dirt, and wind in my face."

But folks in Camilla say their community is a strong one -- and time has healed many wounds.

All that remains of Todd Harrell's house is a field, where crops are now grown.

Despite the tragedy and devastation the tornadoes brought 11 years ago, Harrell says he couldn't feel more blessed by how his life has turned out:

"God has blessed us -- He led me to my wife now, Becky Shiver-Harrell, and He has also blessed us with two beautiful children."

Becky Harrell added, "People rallied around [Todd], and helped him rebuild not only his physical life, but his spiritual and emotional [life] ... and this community, it's just unreal what they did, and I will forever be grateful to everybody."

The Harrells say they will never forget all those lost during the deadly tornadoes, but they've learned an important lesson: through time, patience, and love, things will get better.

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