Condolences to the survivors of the recent storms

As our community begins the long path of recovery, WWALS Watershed Coalition extends deepest sympathy and condolences to those who have lost family, friends, possessions, and a sense of security in the recent storms and tornadoes.

The first two tornado fatalities were in Brooks County west of Barney, with seven more in Cook County and two in Berrien County, plus four in Dougherty County. Only rubble left at Rock Hill Road 31.0092858, -83.5478993 Lowndes County got off light this time, with nobody injured, although there is extensive property damage in all these counties and others.

Cook County Probate Court (Judge Chase Daughtrey) has set up a fund to which you can donate directly. That Court has also supplied contacts for other methods of donation: a bank account, and dropoff locations for school supplies. That page announces a memorial service tonight:

A community-wide prayer service will be at Cornerstone on Wednesday night at 7 pm.
403 Cleveland Street
Sparks, GA 31647

The Valdosta Daily Times is still doing extensive coverage. Terry Richards, VDT, 2017-01-23, Deadly twister ranked at EF3,

The deadly tornado that tore through Berrien, Brooks and Cook counties Sunday had wind speeds above 136 miles per hour, according to the National Weather Service.

The twister killed two people in Brooks County, two in Berrien and seven in Cook. It touched down in north Brooks County near Barney at 3:29 a.m., said Kelly Godsey, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service office in Tallahassee, Fla.

The story says the twister was EF2 (111-135 mph) when:

A couple near Barney was killed when their mobile home was thrown 100 yards and shredded by the tornado, officials said.

Only rubble left at Rock Hill Road
Photo: John S. Quarterman for WWALS 2017-01-23

When the same tornado reached a mobile home park in Cook County, it had grown to EF3 strength, Godsey said. EF3 winds are 136-165 mph and can overturn trains, destroy roofs and walls and uproot most trees, according to

Several mobile homes in the Cook trailer park were destroyed, killing seven. The tornado crossed into Berrien as an E3, where it killed a couple who were asleep when a tree crushed their home, Godsey said.

Dean Poling, VDT, 24 January 2015, Storm death toll rises to 15,

Georgia Emergency Management Agency confirmed a fourth death in Dougherty County, according to a GEMA press release Tuesday evening.

Desiree Carver, VDT, 24 January 2017, Preparing to rebuild after the storm,

Gov. Nathan Deal declared a state of emergency for 16 counties including Atkinson, Baker, Berrien, Brooks, Calhoun, Clay, Colquitt, Cook, Crisp, Dougherty, Lowndes, Mitchell, Thomas, Turner, Wilcox and Worth.

The executive order runs through midnight Jan. 30, according to a press release from Deal’s communication office. Deal plans to visit affected areas Wednesday, Jan. 25, according to the governor’s office.

The fatalities in Brooks, Cook, and Berrien were apparently due to a single tornado. The ones in Dougherty County were apparently a second one.

WALB TV Albany was one of the most useful weather sources during the storms, and if you actually want to see a tornado, here it is. Jake Wallace, WALB 24 January 2017 VIDEO: Albany man captures deadly tornado on camera.

In far-away Atlanta, Ryan Kruger, WXIA, 24 January 2017, #HelpGA: How you can help Georgia tornado victims. Their reporter only went to Albany and only recommends the Red Cross. See above for much more local ways you can help.

Lowndes County Emergency Management Director Ashley Tye reported to the Lowndes County Commission about the storms Monday morning, as you can see in this LAKE video, in which he says Lowndes sent emergency vehicles to Cook, and had to bring them back later when it was clear the storm would also strike Lowndes. Valdosta also sent assistance to Cook County. All these counties and cities are bound by mutual aid agreements they signed.

Videos: Seago back again, road crossing closures, CDBG, GEMA, and public safety radios @ LCC 2017-01-23
Work Session, Lowndes County Commission (LCC),
Video by Gretchen Quarterman for Lowndes Area Knowledge Exchange (LAKE),
Valdosta, Lowndes County, Georgia, January 23, 2017.

There were other other tornadoes and storm damage throughout the southeast. Eric Chaney, The Weather Channel, 24 January 2017, Southern Tornado Victims Identified; Search Still on For Missing Toddler,

One person was injured near Lake City [Florida] after a tree fell and split a home in half.

That is also in WWALS watersheds.

Doyle Rice, USA Today, 23 January 2017, Sunday was worst January day for tornado deaths since 1969,

The Southeast took stock Monday of the wide swath of destruction wrought by the deadliest January day for tornadoes in 48 years.

With 16 deaths, Sunday became the USA’s worst January day for tornadoes since Jan. 22, 1969, when 32 people died, according to the Storm Prediction Center.

Such violently destructive storms are rare for January, and Sunday’s storm was particularly deadly, killing 15 people in Georgia and one in Florida. It was also the deadliest day overall since April 27, 2014. Four other people died Saturday in another tornado in Mississippi.

January 2017 is now the second-deadliest January for tornadoes in the U.S. since accurate records began in 1950. Only January 1969 had more.

If it also happened three years ago, it’s not rare anymore.

Most of the dead were within 20 miles of where I sit. I did not know any of them personally (they are named in the linked stories), but I mourn them nonetheless, as no doubt do we all.

No man is an island,
Entire of itself.
Each is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less.
As well as if a promontory were.
As well as if a manor of thine own
Or of thine friend’s were.
Each man’s death diminishes me,
For I am involved in mankind.
Therefore, send not to know
For whom the bell tolls,
It tolls for thee.

For whom the bell tolls a poem (No man is an island) by John Donne, 1624.

And a more modern version in song: No Man is an Island —The Lettermen.

 -jsq, John S. Quarterman, Suwannee RIVERKEEPER®

You can join this fun and work by becoming a WWALS member today!