• Paulding Co. airport reopens after tornado

    By: Richard Elliot

    Updated:

    PAULDING COUNTY, Ga.,None - The Paulding County Regional Airport is operational again, one week after an EF-3 tornado slammed into parts of west Georgia. 

    But while the airfield itself is back open, the one remaining hangar suffered extensive damage and will have to be torn down and rebuilt.
     
    "We pretty much took a direct hit," said airport manager Blake Swafford. "The hangar was completely destroyed. The building, what's left of it, will have to be torn down and reconstruction."
     
    Swafford said between 18 and 23 aircraft were destroyed when the tornado hit Friday night. He estimates the storm did $5 million in damage to the planes and another $1.5 million to the airport itself. 
    He said crews worked all week to clear off the runways and tarmac to get the airfield operational again.
     
    In the neighboring Clear Creek subdivision, residents remained busy cleaning up after the storm.  After the tornado left the airport, it struck the subdivision and damaged virtually every home there.
     
    Work crews spent the day hanging precariously from safety lines on Nikki Davis' roof. They were replacing shingles blown off by the storm.
     
    "It's taken a pretty long time," said Davis. "They're supposed to be coming out to fix the siding in a few days, but today, they're just working on the roof."
     
    Davis and her neighbor, Keanna Bazemore, thanked the small army of volunteers who have been helping with cleanup for the past week.
     
    "We have a lot of volunteers," said Bazemore. "The churches have been coming out and helping us and feeding us. It's been really good."
     
    Paulding County Commission Chair David Austin estimates the tornado did about $40 million in damage, but he added the damage wasn't severe enough to qualify for federal or state financial aid from GEMA. Instead, he said, residents will have to rely on each other and volunteers.
     
    "Our churches have come together, our civic organizations, everybody is volunteering and stepping forward," said Austin.  "It's amazing."
     
    Wayside Church has been coordinating much of the volunteer effort and will hold another large gathering Saturday at 8:30 a.m. Volunteers can meet at Poole Elementary School on Wayside Road just off Highway 278 near Clear Creek and the airport.


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