Man rushes to help neighbors after storm damage traps them inside home

HARALSON COUNTY, Ga. — A cleanup is underway at an apartment complex that was heavily damaged when strong winds took down some trees in Bremen, Georgia, on Wednesday.

Torrential rain and violent winds ripped through Bremen, leaving a trail of destruction and rattling everyone in its path.

At an apartment complex on Kaiser Street, most of the damage was to the carport, a kitchen and a bedroom. The damage was caused by branches going through the roof.

Channel 2's Steve Gehlbach learned no one was injured during the storm, but neighbors tell him they had no warning.

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Resident Kendall Ridgeway said he went to help his neighbors after learning they couldn't get out of their home.

“They were actually trapped in down here," Ridgeway said. "We had to move some debris to get them out the front door.”

Another resident told Gehlbach they were asleep and woke to a very loud noise.

"It sounded like someone running through my house with a blower," resident Jessica Keaton said.

The Red Cross will be helping the families affected by the storm.

Allison Key said the storm was like something out of a movie.

"It was literally like something out of 'The Wizard of Oz,' Dr. Allison Key told Channel 2's Tom Regan.

Key said she pulled into the parking lot of her medical clinic spa when a tornado alert sounded on her cellphone.

“I could hear trash and debris hitting my car, limbs snapping, the car was kind of shaking and then I noticed debris blowing around my car and I thought, ‘This is really happening,’” Key said.

“We were just looking out the window and then we heard it. And it was like, ‘What is that?’ And she said, ‘Gosh, is that a tornado?’" Morgan Butler told Regan.

The swirling winds tore a sign of a building, toppled a tree and lifted a garage off its foundation.

Just a few blocks away, the wind blast did even more damage, toppling a giant tree onto an apartment building.

Thomas Varkey and his wife, Minnie, were briefly trapped inside the apartment. They heard a tornado warning on their phones right before the storm hit.

“Ten seconds after the warning, the tree came down,” Thomas Varkey said, showing Regan how the tree came down on his car.

People in the area told Regan they took shelter in bathtubs until the storm passed.

The National Weather Service told Regan they will be surveying the damage Thursday in Bremen, and locations in Heard and Talbot counties, to determine if tornadoes touched down.

Channel 2's Richard Elliot went to Heard County where he found road department crews cutting up an old tree that fell down during the storm and blocked Huff Road near Highway 27.

Allen Ray and his team told Elliot the storms were pretty violent when they blew through Wednesday morning.

“We had some strong winds come through. The tornado sirens went off. The ground is just so saturated, it couldn’t withstand the wind, so we got several trees down in this area, and here we are trying to clean it all up,” Ray said.

The storms also knocked down trees along Victory Road in the western part of the county.

Those trees blocked the road and knocked out power to dozens of people, but other than that, there wasn’t much damage.

Cathy Carters told Elliot she was counting her blessings. Other than ripping up some of her tin roof, the house avoided tree damage.

“Very grateful it did not. Very thankful,” Carters said.

Back over on Huff Road, Ray’s crew used a bobcat to haul the debris away and reopen the road to traffic.

Ray told Elliot that his crews have been working all over the county to clear roads.

“We try to get there as quick as we can, so we can get the cars, the roads open, so cars can get through, whatever. And we try to get the most traveled roads first,” Ray said.