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Tornado victims get unexpected help with cleanup
Contractors Ellis Wood and W.L. Davis and Beasley Hauling volunteers crews, equipment
Wood leadWeb
Ellis Wood, center, speaks with two members of his crew during cleanup efforts over the weekend near Nevils. Wood and other Bulloch contractors volunteered their time and equipment to help clean up debris caused by the tornado two weeks ago. - photo by ROGER ALLEN/special

            Crews from contractors Ellis Wood and W.L. Davis, along with a few from Beasley Hauling, volunteerd their time and equipment over the weekend to help Bulloch County residents who suffered damage from the tornado that touched down last month clean up debris.

            The crews gathered at the Country Girls Café in Nevils and headed out.

            The list of equipment assembled included, two off-road and three regular dump trucks, two front end loaders with root rakes, a backhoe, a bobcat, two low-boys, and two bulldozers. Chainsaws were plentiful, too.

            Company owners Ellis Wood and Lynn Davis were there and they were joined by equipment operators Russ Sharp, Grady Glisson, Owen Lanier, Rufus Wilson, Lamell Wendell and George and Ray Beasley. They showed up at Saturday at 7 a.m. sharp.

            Ted Wynn, Public Safety Director for Bulloch County helped direct traffic traffic.

            “(For may years,) these men have been volunteering to help people whose property was damaged by tornadoes all over Georgia. But this is their first time getting to help people in their own hometown.”

            Ellis Wood explained, “We all believe that God has given us many blessings. This is their way of sharing some of those blessings with folks who need a helping hand. Over the last month we’ve been working up around Summertown, in Dublin, and in Macon.

            At the end of Davis Road live Douglas and Linda Davis. Douglas expressed amazement when he learned that help was on the way. He said, “These guys (did) in a day what would have taken us several months of hard work.”

The violent storm left quite an impression on Davis.

            “I’ve lived here 65 years, and have never seen such a thing," he said. "The tornado crossed the pond, and went right down the lane between my house and the Rigdons’ knocking everything down.”

            Mark Rigdon, his wife Kathy, and their five kids live next door. They also were at home when the power went off.

            “I heard a loud roaring sound, so I looked outside and saw that the pecan trees were laying flat against the ground,” he said. “Kathy called me up at work a couple of days ago, and was near tears when she relayed the fact that these men were going to come take down all the shattered trees around the house.”

            Down the road about a half-mile, Cody Brown, his wife Jennifer, and their children Colby and Blakely were all at home when the storm hit.

            “I heard this loud roaring, everybody ran to the bathroom, the whole house shook, and then it was over,” he said.

            When he looked outside, he said half of the trees in the yard looked like they had blown apart.

            About this force of volunteers, Brown said, “This is amazing. They’re going to cut down, pick up, and then haul off all the remaining upturned trees. Then they’re going to pile it in the field down the road. And we’re not going to have to pay a dime.”

            Another half-mile down the road lives Jeremy Griffis, his wife Paula, and his children Erin and Eoin. He remembers the day of the storm vivdly.

            “I told the wife I heard a strange noise," he said. "It kept getting louder, and the next thing we knew a huge tree came crashing through the roof into the master bedroom.

            “Just as fast, it was over. I went outside, and couldn’t believe the destruction in our front yard. Someone drove up and offered to get it off our roof for $2,000. Having no other option, I agreed, as we needed to cover the hole it had punched through the roof up with a tarp.”

            Griffis couldn’t help but get angry at “having been taken advantage by the vultures that had shown up almost immediately on he and his neighbors doorsteps after the storm.”

            Now, Griffis can’t thank the volunteers enough: “They’re fantastic. This is truly a godsend. We had no idea what we were going to do.”