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TEAM COVERAGE: Hurricane-force winds damage Valdosta; neighbors working to rebuild

The First to Know Storm Team said winds peaked at 75 mph early Wednesday morning
Posted at 6:26 PM, Mar 27, 2024
and last updated 2024-03-27 18:26:31-04
  • After severe weather damaged more than 30 homes in Valdosta early Wednesday morning, neighbors are working to remove trees.
  • Some of those neighbors had just finished cleaning up damage from Hurricane Idalia.
  • Watch the video above to see the damage, hear from those neighbors and get storm analysis in our team coverage.

BROADCAST TRANSCRIPT:

I'm Shamarria Morrison live in Valdosta. Right now, I am in the front yard that is a one representation of the wide spread damage this area saw after severe weather last night. There are 1,2,3,4,5 trees that you see have been uprooted.

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Trees fell into a home in Valdosta

Come with me as I show you how these trees landed in various spots of the home. We spoke to the homeowners, and they told us that miraculously no one was hurt. She was in the living room when it happened. I've talked to more neighbors in this area about their near misses.

In this neighborhood in Valdosta neighbors and homeowners listen to the sound of tree branches cracking, chain saws revving, and crews restoring lights. This home with multiple trees down.

Dudley Stanaland said, "it came diagonal across the house. So it got most of the bedrooms and bathrooms in the living room so did not penetrate all the way through the house. Everybody was safe and just lucky to be here."

Eagle Eye Roofing, a local business, working since sunrise to tear this tree out of the middle of their home.

"We're just trying to get everything cleaned up we had the people with the crane come out and pull the tree off the roof and just got a cleaning crew coming in clean up all the trees and debris and all that kind of stuff. So trying to get everything done," Stanaland added.

I spoke to Valdosta's fire chief, Brian Boutwell, about the city's response. "We just urge people to be safe as they travel through the city. Of course if they don't have to get out we're asking that they don't we may be we're in contact with National Weather Service on a regular basis for updates and so that there's buyers and they're still unstable so we may still have some weather coming through."

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Trees are blocking multiple roads in the Valdosta area

He says there were reports of more than 30 trees going through homes. "We did not have a report of any injuries or recipes. And we're very fortunate that the homes that were damaged, we didn't have any anyone injured in those incidents," the chief added.

The city says scammers in Valdosta are offering tree and debris removal services for large fees. Please avoid interacting with people who are not certified tree surgeons.

Certified tree surgeons will have documentation proving their legitimacy as a business recognized by the City of Valdosta. They will give you a written estimate, a contractual agreement, and won't request upfront payments.

Also check in with your insurance provider prior to debris removal or commencing repairs. This homeowner thankful for local contractors who they know and trust to get the job done.

"They're actually just got them blowing off my roof. So they got everything blown off and swept up and taking pictures of it. And I've got the people coming out here doing the trees and just helping out any way they can."

The chief told me they expect most roads to be clear by the end of Wednesday unless the storms happening later in the day delay them.

As heavy rain and strong winds ripped through Valdosta early Wednesday morning, some neighbors were feeling a strong sense of deja vu. "I got more damage last night than I ever got through the hurricane," one neighbor told us.

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Maplewood Drive

I'm Malia Thomas, your neighborhood reporter in Valdosta, and I'm speaking with neighbors who are recovering from severe storms. again.

You might not know Deana Collins, but you might recognize her home. Dubbed by some as the "LSU house", her purple memorabilia has been proudly displayed on her home for the past two decades.

Now, those signs and emblems have been replaced by hanging wires and fallen trees. "Look at my yard! I've got trees broken off there are 100 foot trees that are 50 inches around broken in half like toothpicks. It's awful."

What hurts the most? She had just gotten her house back in order a few weeks ago after it was damaged by Hurricane Idalia last August. "One you don't wanna contact your insurance company because your insurance rates go way up because you can't afford all of that; you just can't. I spent $5,000 to remove 5 trees; that's not even to clean up the damage and cleaning it up. That was just to remove trees."

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Power crews working to restore electricity in the Valdosta area

Several neighbors are in Deana's position. The National Weather Service says 32 homes were damaged in Wednesday morning's storm. Winds peaked at 75 miles per hour!

Places like Jerry Jones, the Gornto corridor, Ashley Street, and North Oak Street Extension bore the brunt of the damage, with each of their roadways being closed off at various points in the days.

Valdosta's storm water, arbor, and traffic management divisions are working to restore the Azalea City back to normal. Unfortunately for Deana, "they're telling me I'm going three weeks without electricity."

The damage path for this storm is over 4 miles long and 2,000 yards wide.