The City of Mansfield is grateful for the outpouring of support it has seen in the past couple of days after a straight-lined winds exceeding 80 mph tearing through downtown businesses and utilities.
The Covington-Newton County 911 Center issued a tornado warning for the entire county at approximately 1:27 p.m. Monday. According to Jody Nolan, county EMA director, Mansfield was hit approximately 30 seconds later.
Newton County Sheriff’s Office (NCSO) responded immediately to clear debris from the roadway along with the Newton County Fire Department (NCFD). An Instant Command Center was set up and officers began going door-to-door to check on the wellbeing of residents of the community, Nolan said.
Utility crews from surrounding cities responded to help restore power to the city’s residents.
Nolan said at one point there were more than 400 citizens without power.
Mansfield couldn’t have done it without community’s help
Mayor Jeffers R. Riley said without the help of the city’s neighbors, the small town would have been left picking up the pieces for a while. He said utility workers from Newton County, City of Covington, City of Elberton and City of Monroe offered a helping hand in restoring power within 24 hours and clearing roadways throughout the city.
Riley said the city has only two employees of its public works department and one of them was out on vacation, so without the help from outside agencies, the city would have been overwhelmed with the responsibility of putting itself back together.
“We’ve come a long way in just a few days but we have a ways to go,” he said.
Monday’s storm marked the third time Mansfield has been hit in five years. The first of which, Riley said, was very mild and only took out a few trees and the second one knocked out a few houses. Monday’s storm, however, had the largest impact on the city.
Riley said he was grateful there were no injuries.
“Material things can be replaced so all and all we were very blessed,” he said.
“I love Mansfield and it breaks my heart to see it in such disarray,” he said. “Praise God were almost back.”
Family-owned business trying to maintain operation
Hays Tractor suffered a large chunk of the damage Monday after the storm tore through the business’ roof. Now, the business is left to put the pieces back together and figure out how to operate.
Sheila Hays Massey, owner of Hays Tractor, said she is currently working with the insurance company to see what the next step is. One of the main beams of the building was completely destroyed in the storm, she said.
She said the business is moving inventory to temporary boxes so the store can remain open and operating.
Massey said her employees are still taking phone calls and are working to help customers as much as possible. The phone number for the business is 770-786-3334. Massey said there is not a voicemail system, so if someone does not answer, continue trying to call.
BOC praises storm response
The day after the severe weather caused widespread damage to the City of Mansfield, the Newton County Board of Commissioners (BOC) got an update from Nolan, and applauded the response and teamwork of the agencies who responded.
“Even in that terrible circumstance yesterday, it was good to see all of the people that came out to help Mansfield,” Chairman Marcello Banes said. “It was a hands-on team, the sheriff’s department, the City of Covington, the Newton County Road Department.
“It was a great team, great teamwork. That’s something we ought to be proud of, how the citizens came out.”
Commissioner Stan Edwards, whose District 1 includes Mansfield echoed the chairman’s comments.
“I want to make sure the community understands the asset that your team (NCEMA), our sheriff’s department, our fire department, the City of Covington Mr. (Lloyd) Kerr’s public works department, what an asset we have,” he said.
“I want to take this time to applaud Mr. Nolan, the sheriff’s department, the fire department and everybody who helped yesterday.”
Community Reporter Darryl Welch contributed to this report.