The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
-Psalm 19:1

Do you know that God controls the clouds and makes his lightning flash?
-Job 37:15

Monday, February 23, 2009

The damage from the Boston, Georgia tornado at about 1:00AM on February 19, 2009

You know... I have seen on television, the devastation of an EF5 tornado such as when 95% of Greensburg, KS was destroyed in May 2007 by a 1 1/2 mile wide EF5 wedge tornado, which stole 11 lives, and the near total destruction seen in Parkersburg, IA, where the 1/2 mile wide EF5 wedge tornado stole the lives of 7 people. I have seen the utter catastrophic devastation left by Hurricanes Andrew, Katrina and Ike... on video, in pictures, but nothing can fully prepare you for seeing it first-hand. Nothing can truly prepare you for that human element that you experience when you look around at the faces of the family, whose home has been destroyed, and they have no idea what to do. Their expressions summarize a feeling of utter confusion and helplessness. The overwhelming appearance of the scene is staggering. Nothing can prepare you for a 300-400 400-500 yard wide swath of destruction just mere feet from a lonely house on a hill, demonstrating God's merciful grace, as His hand clearly worked as a shield protecting the lives of those in Thomas county on this fateful February 19, 2009. As I mentioned in the previous post, Rick, Meso Mike and I went into Thomas county Saturday afternoon to survey the damage in both Boston, GA (yes, there is a Boston, GA) and Thomasville, GA. The report from the National Weather Service in Tallahassee had mentioned that they had upgraded the tornado that dropped in Boston to an EF3 after surveying the damage on Salem Road, where bark was literally ripped off the trees in the path of this monstrous beast. Our first stop worked to somewhat prepare me for everything. Nothing I hadn't seen before, trees down, a mess in the yard, root systems of large pine tree lifted up into the air, ripped from the ground. Trees were twisted and snapped, and homes were just barely missed with blue tarps revealing some roof damage. It was when we traveled over to Salem Road in Boston that we saw the true power of an EF3 tornado. Fortunately, it was not a heavily populated area, and as I mentioned, God's hand worked as a shield to protect the Lowe family's home, which they were hiding in the tub of... I had the opportunity to speak with Mr. and Mrs. Lowe, and he was kind enough to share his story with me. He said that they were up watching channel 6 because it looked like the weather could get bad. Finally, channel 6 announced that the last cell had gone, and the threat was past (Mr. Lowe is very upset--understatement--with Channel 6 for announcing such ridiculousness. How did channel 6 not see that once the low incredibly moisture-fed boundary off the Gulf interacted with the cold frontal boundary approaching from the south that there would be a potential explosion of forcing, which would potentially generate a strong tornado?! I couldn't have been the only weather geek who saw that!!!). He went on to bed, but hadn't fallen asleep when the weather got really horrible outside, and his wife expressed some grave concern. The way things were looking, they decided to take cover in the tub of the interior bathroom, and held on for dear life as an EF3 tornado roared around their house, tearing a swath of debris about 300 450 yards wide just to their north. The barn erected in the 1950's, with some recent steel framing add-ons, was left a pile of rubble (which the Lowe family and many of their friends) had mostly cleared into piles by the time we arrived, but here is where it had stood when they went to sleep on Wednesday... ... and here are the piles of rubble. A silo, that had been on the southwestern side of their property was torn to shreds, leaving sheets of metal wrapped around trees to their north. Some of the barn was found dangling in a pine tree on a branch 100-200 feet in the air. A pick-up truck had its tailgate twisted on it's hinges and left just dangling there. Their pool house had the back-side blown out of it. The fence once surrounding their pool and yard, now part of the wood pile mixed up with the barn debris. Insulation littering a peripheral tree like fallen snow.This scene alone was staggering... the realization that they were spared by a hair... I could if only it to death, but the bottom line is they were spared. Thanks to God. What a horrific night that was for the Lowe family. Walking north into the area where the 300-400 400-500 yard wide wedge EF3 tornado actually touched the ground... it was mind-blowing. I will just share pics.3 football fields! One lonely house, under siege by a vicious beast of destruction the size of 3 football fields!!! Holy guacamole! So, you walk east, clearly seeing where the tornado cut its path along a strip of trees, missing a house down the way, but flipping their rv over, stripping what remained of trees of their bark, leaving them barren and obstacles for the pine trees that had become flying debris... wow. Wow.That was Boston. I am going to take a break. I will cover the Thomasville tornado in a separate post. This one is a little picture heavy, and during the Thomasville photography, I was more impacted by the human impact. I was strongly moved.

Remember, this is the same tornadic supercell that was on course for me. A tornado was reported just south of me, but I was not able to find sufficient damage to justify such a report. I spoke with the emergency manager in my county who confirmed that a spotter reported it, but he was not able to find anything either. As tree filled as my road is, and with the relative velocity looking the way it did, I wouldn't doubt that it was a funnel that dropped, but as tree filled as the road is, it would have left a mark. Regardless, we were in our "safe spot" because of what I was seeing on radar and the tornado warning... thanks, guys (Tally and Brigade), better safe than sorry!

Here is a link to the local storm reports from the tornado event.



  1. Great write up Dew. March isn't even here yet.


  2. It is definitely very humbling to see what the power of God can do, even when manifested in such a destructive manner. Great post, Dew! Keep living the dream.

  3. It was a most humbling sight Dew..You never get used to it..

  4. Very humbling, indeed. You did an excellent job covering bothe the amazing natural apect as well as the human side of it.

  5. Hey Chica

    I have to take some deep breaths here, not sure if I can read the Thomasville post tonight. Was watching 'Taking Chance' earlier, so was already at the end of my emotional tether, so to speak.

    Just wanted to say ... thank you.

    When people see video's, images, news articles of devastation, it really is not the same as seeing it firsthand. You think you know what it would be like, you can feel empathy, but it's not the same as being there. Either during or witnessing it right after.

    My heart, thoughts and prayers go out to all affected by the storms. And my heart goes out to you, Rick and Meso Mike (and Alabama Mike!) for witnessing up close the power of nature.

    You, Rick and MM, were witness to the human aspect, the emotional aspect of storms, which sometimes is just as hard to deal with as being in the situation.

    From firsthand experience I can honestly say, sometimes words are not needed at that moment, just a comforting hug and shoulder to lean on.

    Okay... yes, I think tomorrow will be soon enough for the next post.

    I am so glad that you, mini-dew and gtb's kids are all okay. Just remember what I told you... rat's patootie chica.

  6. Great posting on the Lowe family. I know them personally, but what about the damage done to HWY 33 (just one road over). There was plenty of damage over that way also. Are there any pictures of that? I know this personally because I was one who went though that horrible night. The one thing that really upsets me is how everybody assumed that the damaged stopped at the Lowe's property. Not one time did anyone from the county, Red Cross, etc. stop by our place to check on everybody in my neighborhood.


Dew comment, please...