‘You can replace all that’s gone, but you can’t replace your life’: West Point Tornado Victims thankful to be alive

'You can replace all that's gone, but you can't replace your life': West Point Tornado Victims Still Picking up the Pieces
Published: Mar. 30, 2023 at 5:40 AM EDT
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WEST POINT, Ga. (WTVM) - In Troup County,  clean-up and assessments continue after an EF3 tornado touched down over the weekend.

Victims are still trying to recover from what happened, but they’re thankful to be alive.

“You can replace all that’s gone, but you can’t replace your life,” says Kerry Winston, a tornado survivor. “Me and mom we got out good and we thank God for that.”

The home of 87-year-old Mattie Winston is rubble after an EF3 tornado ripped through it Sunday.

Winston and her oldest son, Kerry, were inside the home during the storm. Kerry says it felt like a total of 5 seconds for damage to be done.

“I heard just a big boom sound and the building shook and then it was over with,” says Winston.

Winston and his mother took shelter in the hallway closet. A tree landed right on top of the mother’s bedroom.

“Sometimes people take for granted what weather channels are saying to do to be safe,” says Winston. “Do it. I did it without conscience and it saved our life.”

This is not the first time the Winston family has been impacted by a tornado. The youngest son, Derrick Winston’s home in LaGrange was destroyed in the January 13 storm.

“We’re just doing what we can and we’re taking it day by day,” says Winston “It’s difficult, but I’m trying to help my mom out the best way I can.”

Since then, his family has lived in an nearby apartment. Losing two homes in less than two months is tough, but the Winstons are remaining positive.

“All we’re doing is praying together and sticking together, you know, try to deal with the insurance companies and try to get them on the right track,” says Winston.

Sunday’s tornado damaged a total of 139 homes in West Point, Georgia. Mike Foran’s home near wildcat creek is one of them. Like Kerry Winston, he says the storm happened in the blink of an eye.

“I heard my phone go off for the tornado warning and I didn’t even have the time to get out of bed before everything just came through,” says Foran

Foran’s basement flooded completely and part of the roof was taken down by a tree in the yard. A pine tree had Foran blocked in his driveway until a neighbor helped cut it in half Sunday. Foran says it’s been a whirlwind since.

“It’s been extremely stressful, talking to insurance companies and other people to do construction and what I need to do. Right now, we’re just trying to see if the insurance company can handle it,” says Foran.

Right now, there is not federal assistance for disaster relief for this storm damage. However, since Governor Kemp has declared this a state emergency, state agencies are helping at a local level.

The salvation army is on site at 7900 block of West Point road in West Point, GA until 6:30 pm. As of right now, March 30 is the last day the Salvation Army will be stationed there for donation and relief efforts.