Neighbors help neighbors in storm's aftermath

April 30, 2014 10:51:47 AM

Nathan Gregory - [email protected]


Beverly Smith lives with her 86-year-old mother, Alice Nickoles, at the corner of Lacy and Hutcherson roads in east Lowndes County. On Tuesday afternoon, they were approaching 24 hours without power, but were in good spirits. 


Carolyn Nickoles was helping Smith clean up the yard. Wearing gloves, they stacked limbs in a pile. 


"This is nothing compared to some folks," Carolyn Nickoles said, acknowledging the more extensive damage half a mile away near Pleasant Hill Road. "We're blessed." 


Approximately, 1,009 4-County Electric customers were still without power Tuesday after Monday afternoon's severe weather hit particularly hard in New Hope. 4-County communications specialist Brad Barr said all of those are likely in Lowndes County. Seventy-two people are working to restore power to those homes. It is expected for a majority of them to have power again this evening, Barr said. 


Columbus Lowndes Emergency Management Agency Director Cindy Lawrence said about 100 homes county-wide received damage.  


Twelve mobile homes on Beck Road were destroyed. 


The National Weather Service is assessing the damage to determine the severity of the tornado that touched down near the intersection of Highways 82 and 45 South, as well as other possible tornadoes that went through East Lowndes County. 


Columbus Light and Water General Manager Todd Gale said he hopes to have the majority of the 300 residences still without power this morning back on the grid by Thursday evening. 


Carolyn Nickoles said she was in the Pleasant Hill Baptist Church basement when the storm was overhead. The church had roof and water damage from the excess winds. She wasn't able to get to her house because fallen trees and debris blocked the road.  


"We had about 20 people and five dogs just chillin' under the church," she said. 


More cleanup was ongoing at Pleasant Hill and Lacy roads. Lisa Brewer, another Pleasant Hill Baptist Church member, was one of a dozen people in the yard picking up limbs and patching up the house of the church's minister of music, Wylie Dilmore. Brewer said she was in the laundry room in her house at the time the storm reached her area and was safe. Her yard received a few fallen limbs, she said. When she found out about the damage to many houses on Lacy Road, she became one of countless people in that area pitching in to get debris on the side of the road. 


Somewhere behind an old, giant cedar tree that had fallen victim to the storm, Jason McCool and Carl Veazey were running their chainsaws, splitting another tree that had fallen down in front of a neighbor's mobile home on Lacy Road into smaller chunks. The mobile home was spared, just a few visible dents on its front right side. They had been out there since 8 a.m. Tuesday.  


McCool declined to repeat what he said when he first saw the damage. 


"I haven't seen it this bad in eight or nine years," he said. 


Lawrence encouraged anyone needing assistance to call the Columbus Lowndes Emergency Management Agency at 662-329-5110.

Nathan Gregory covers city and county government for The Dispatch.