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Employees at once-shuttered Cairo grocery store reflect on tornado one year later

Posted at 5:23 PM, Mar 03, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-03 17:23:24-05

CAIRO, Ga. (WTXL) — It took eight months for Cairo grocery store IGA to recover from the tornado that barreled through one year ago, but employees now say they learned a lot from the storm and know how to better prepare themselves for any future severe weather.

One year ago, a tornado ripped through Cairo, damaging homes and businesses, including the grocery store one neighborhood greatly depended on.

Local grocery store IGA had to close down for eight months in order to rebuild. A lot of people in the area are thankful to have the grocery store open.

Sherrie Godwin has worked at Cairo IGA for about two years.

"The whole side of the building shook," Godwin said. "It sounded like a freight train coming through."

The sights and sounds of last year's tornado are still fresh in her mind.

"The doors started flying open, and we had customers in the store," Godwin said. "We were kind of prepared, but it was devastating in that moment."

Godwin said she's thankful the storm wasn't much worse and that no one died. The tornado damaged the store's roof and most of the food inside.

"The store was closed for eight months," said Godwin. "The community on this side of town really thrives on this store because a lot of people don't have transportation and they don't want to walk to the other side of town. So it was very missed by our customers."

For about five years, Bonnie Johnson depended on the grocery store for her basic needs.

"This grocery store was a huge help because food is expensive," Johnson said. "So we are glad to have IGA back."

Despite the devastation, Johnson says overall storm recovery efforts brought the community closer together.

"I think everybody came together and did what they needed to do as a community." said Johnson.

Cairo IGA reopened back in October. Employees here say that they learned a lot from the storm and know how to better prepare themselves for any future ones.