County residents still recovering from recent storms
by Greg Sullivan
photos by Angelina Bellebuono
Although it's been nearly three weeks since storms swept through Morgan County, as well as other parts of the state, rebuilding here is still going on and in some cases has been fairly costly.
At first glance, the cedar siding on the front side of Joel Eidsen's house outside of Rutledge looks like it's covered with big splashes of pollen or some other type of residue. But look a little closer at the home and you'll see it was pelted by large chunks of hail that scraped bits of siding off the house.
According to the National Weather Service office in Peachtree City there were two reports of storms on Saturday, March 15, one of golf ball size hail in Rutledge at 4:56 p.m. and one at 5 p.m. in the Buckhead area, near the Morgan-Putnam line, where hail was somewhere between the size of a quarter or a half dollar.
Both reports were spawned from public phone calls.
"Most likely there was a swath [of storms] across the whole county," said Rob Handel, a forecaster for the National Weather Service based in Peachtree City.
Eidson said an insurance estimate for damage to his home added up to about $26,000, which included roofing work, replacement of shutters, siding work, window screens and a new window.
"I haven't even found two window screens yet," Eidson said Friday. "We've got to redo the whole siding." He said he also had a work truck receive some body damage from the hail, but said he's not planning on having it repaired.
For Eidson, and presumably many others in the area, the storm was more than just destructive; it was scary.
"I've never experienced that before and I never want to experience it again," Eidson said of the storm, which he waited out in the downstairs of his house. "I can't describe the sound."
He said he was glad everyone was unharmed, and said he's been satisfied with how the preliminary rebuilding process has gone so far, saying it gives him something to do since he's retired.
With a drive through nearby Indian Creek subdivision, a couple miles from Rutledge, the story is similar. This wasn't damage from neighborhood kids, in mass, trying out holiday shotguns on surrounding vinyl siding or throwing softballs through their neighbors' windows, but the storm had just such an effect.
Vinyl siding didn't hold up as well as Eidson's cedar, either. In many cases, the hail ripped straight through it. Windows, shutters and garage doors were damaged, depending on which side of the house faced the oncoming storm.
Some squares of vinyl also now appear to be intentionally cut out of many of the houses, likely by owners trying to do color matching for vinyl replacement.
The storm, however, also took a toll on some within Rutledge's city limits.
Linda Bratcher, who lives with her husband James on the corner of Centennial and US 278 in Rutledge, said her house and garage apartment will both need their roofs and gutters replaced following the storms. The storm also damaged the family's vehicles.
"We had to replace the windshields on three automobiles; two trucks and a Pathfinder," Bratcher said. She said the trucks also had some body damage that they have yet to repair.
Paul Jones, who owns Rutledge's downtown hardware store, also tells of the storm's wrath in the small city.
"A lot of roofs got damaged. It really hit hard right here," Jones said. "You'll see a lot of roofers riding around."
The most extreme example of damage in the area Jones said he's heard is from one man who said he had 21 windows damaged on his home. Other than that most people talk about roof replacement and other scattered damages.
Jones, himself, said his two downtown Rutledge buildings, along with his wife's downtown building, all had their roofs damaged. His wife's building, he said, also had a broken window.
Others in the downtown area, Jones said, have said they had similar problems.
Last week a State Farm catastrophe team, made up of members from Kansas, Michigan, Texas and Louisiana, worked 12 hour shifts under a tent in the Madison Lowe's parking lot accessing damage to local storm-damaged cars. Team members said they'd assessed hundreds of vehicles from the region since they'd been there nine days before.
Many of the vehicles were coming from Social Circle, the assessors said, but some were local. They said damaged varied, but many had window and/or body damage.
The tent moved out of town Sunday, but the repair work is still not quite finished for many in Morgan County.