An average Sunday for David Frank: church service, food, and preparation for a new week. But, two Sundays ago, the regular scheduled program was interrupted.
An Alabama-born tornado trickled its way to other southern regions, South Georgia and the Florida panhandle.
Aside from normality of bad weather that night, David Frank, a Cairo, Ga native and firefighter, knew something wasn’t quite right when he heard the town’s sirens yell.
Frank is used to saving others. But, as the tornado slashed through his home, he could only focus on protecting himself, his wife, Petunia Frank, and their dog, Boss.
“Warnings quickly ran across the television, but by then the tornado made its way,” said Frank. “The trees fell, windows shattered, and we ran multiple places within the house until it was over. It was pitch black.”
Lasting through the three-minute terror was one thing but facing the damage the next few mornings was another.
“It’s important that I stayed the night because of the possibility of looters in the area,” said Frank. “Both me and my wife analyzed the destruction the next day and she immediately cried”
According to the National Weather Service, the tornado that landed in Cairo and surrounding areas was assigned as an EF2 tornado with maximum estimated winds of 120 miles per hour. Experts say an EF2, also known as an Enhanced Fujita Scale, creates “considerable damage:” Roofs torn off well-constructed houses, cars lifted off of the ground, etc.
The Franks and other Cairo residents are patching up the wounds wanting to move forward. Like some residents, they have homeowners insurance as a safe haven, but many of their memories are shredded.
“We’re blessed to be alive and make it through,” said Frank. “We really can’t complain about the materialistic things.”
A warning from a friend enabled David and Petunia’s niece and former FAMU student, KeAzsa Greene, to avoid coming home to Cairo that night.
“Everyone was shocked, and still is,” said Greene. “I’m glad to see my family and friends survived and aren’t injured in any way.”
The Cairo community didn’t waste any time aiding in relief. The Southern Baptist Convention Disaster Relief Georgia surveyed the areas that were directly affected distributing meals and care, if needed.
“Since the morning after, we’ve combed through the neighborhood to remove any debris or trees near the home via the permission of the homeowner,” said David Piland, the Unit Director of the relief group. “We’ve found many homeowners who were still in house upon arrival.”
“It’s better to take down aged trees, rather than for mother nature to get involved.”