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No injuries, owner vows to reopen, after 30 trees fell on Mansfield marina
Bear Creek Marina
The occupants of this and other RVs moved to stronger shelter before falling trees damaged the campers parked at Bear Creek Marina Jan. 12. (Special | Don Wright)

MANSFIELD, Ga. — The owner of Bear Creek Marina says he is determined to reopen despite recent tornadoes felling more than 30 large trees all around his business operation.

Miraculously, no injuries were reported because of some RV residents’ efforts to avoid the storm and its restaurant being closed for the season.

“The best part is nobody got hurt and there were people there in campers when it came through,” said owner Don Wright. “It could have been a disaster.”

“It doesn’t even look like the same place,” he added

Bear Creek Marina is located on Jackson Lake just east of the Newton County line in Jasper County. 

The Jan. 12 incident included high winds and two tornadoes traveling near each other along a path through southern Newton and nearby areas of Butts, Jasper and Henry counties.

Wright said 31 trees fell on the marina’s grounds, including some that did serious damage to three RVs camping at the marina.

“For an RV park and having that many people living there, it’s amazing nobody got hurt,” he said.

About 19 people live “long term” in RVs on the marina grounds.

Those inside the RVs at the time had moved to a cinder block bathhouse nearby to escape injury, Wright said.

“I know a lot of them were there (Jan. 12),” Wright said.

“I went down the next morning and they were shell-shocked,” he said. “People wandering around ... like in a war zone.”

Wright is awaiting the final damage total from his insurance company but the bulk of the business escaped serious harm.

He said he was awaiting word about structural damage to the restaurant — which is open from March to October. Trees fell on the front and back porches of the restaurant but not the building’s roof, he said. 

“We may be opening a little bit later but the plan, at this point, is to open,” he said.

A boat storage area took some damage but “it’s repairable.” Its docks on Jackson Lake escaped harm, Wright said.

“I’m not going to give up that easy,” Wright said.