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Repairs underway to restore Columbus home destroyed in storm

97-year-old’s Mary Whitaker’s roof was caved in during Father’s Day last year.
Published: May. 12, 2022 at 9:39 PM EDT
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COLUMBUS, Ga. (WTVM) - One Columbus woman is getting an early gift before her 98th birthday.

Mary Whitaker survived a storm last year that damaged her home and cars.

With repairs starting today, the mother of 10 says she’s thankful to be still alive.

A double-headed stump remains after a tree caved this roof in and knocked out the side of this home. The homeowner tells me she was inside when the tree fell but didn’t realize the extent of the damage until a neighbor rushed over.

As the sun rises, members of a local church and a non-profit organization called Community Warriors begin restoring a home damaged last year. The tarps cover empty space left after a tree fell on an elderly woman’s home on Father’s Day, causing the roof to cave in.

“I’m saying, ‘Oh, my God, the tree has, you know, hit her house.’ And that’s basically -- we were just shocked,” said Minister Angel James.

James says she was on the way home from church when she saw the damage left at 97-year-old Mary Whitaker’s home. The removal came with a steep price tag of four thousand dollars but did not include these double-headed tree stumps left behind. Chaplain Tawanna Jamison says Whitaker had to use the last bit of her savings to get rid of the tree.

“It was a huge tree because it was all out in the road, and you had to go around. You couldn’t come through to get by,” said James.

Another neighbor shared pictures, saying the tree hit a gas line.

“But the tree fell, and I had just moved from one area to another one. And next thing I know it was a big bomb, like a bomb had hit,” said Whitaker as she recalls what happened that day.

Whitaker says she was at home when a storm hit. But, she didn’t know how bad things got until a neighbor came banging on her door.

“One of the neighbors ran over and said, ‘your house -- a tree has fallen.’ I was so shocked, shocked, I was in shock.”

Repairs took a while to start, but neighbors are happy Whitaker will return home soon. As she prepares for her 98th birthday Friday, she continues to praise God.

“To get back here would mean everything to me because I feel like the lord kept me here. He said my work was not finished,” said Whitaker.

Since then, Whitaker says she’s gone from place to place but can’t wait to be back home.

Those in charge of repairs say they are in desperate need of contractors and are raising money on GoFundMe.

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