Severe weather damages local homes, businesses

As tropical depression swept Fred through northeast Georgia on Tuesday, some Habersham residents and business owners saw damage from the storm that left them in shock.

Homeowner Chris Norton was working in Cornelia when he got a call that a tree had fallen on his home in Demorest, crushing the back of the house and leaving the roof in extreme disrepair. He and his daughter live there; luckily she was with her aunt when the tree fell.

Concerned neighbor Brandon Grissom, a Demorest resident and owner of All American Roofing, saw a fire truck pass through the neighborhood during the storm. Grissom went to check on the situation after the tornado warning ended.

Fortunately, no one was inside when the tree fell into the house on Pine Avenue during Tuesday’s thunderstorm. (Photo: Hadley Cottingham, now Habersham)

“As soon as the storm subsided a bit, we came here to see what was going on,” Grissom says. “I’ve seen a lot of trees on roofs, and this is up there with the worst” [I’ve seen].”

Norton is thankful no one was hurt, but the damage to his home is staggering. For now, he’s working on the next steps with insurance coverage.

Cornelia company “Structure Hair & Co.” saw nearly a foot of water rise from the tropical depression outside the saloon door, which eventually made its way inside. Owner Shelby Askew moves to another salon to continue her work while hers undergoes repairs.

A line on the glass door indicates where the water had collected outside the saloon, which was about 12 inches (30 cm) high. (Photo: Hadley Cottingham, now Habersham)

Askew says this has happened before. In October, Hurricane Delta caused the same phenomenon, but Askew says Delta brought in 1.2 meters of water. She says she’s only recently settled back into her salon and has to start the process all over again.

“I hope this doesn’t happen again — I need to find a way to prevent it from happening again, but the city will step in to help,” Askew says.

She tells Now Habersham that the drain near her business can’t handle all the water that flows into it. She says that when Cornelia’s fire department arrived after the storm to clear the debris on the drain, the water subsided within ten minutes.

As she prepares to move and wait to return to her salon, Askew is ready to tackle the following and lean on her community for support. Both Askew and Norton were able to find someone in their community to help – for Norton it was a local roofing company ready to help, and for Askew it was a nearby salon willing to give her space to continue her work.

“You do what you have to do,” Askew says. “Community comes together, that’s all you can do.”

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